• Skip to content
  • Cookies
  • College
  • Shop
  • Safety
  • Education
  • News Centre
  • Recruitment
  • Contact us
Content anchor

Print this page PDF this page

Changes at Humber RNLI lifeboat station

About the author

Image of Alison Levett

Alison Levett
Public Relations Manager at North.

Lifeboats Statement

  • Date:
  • Author: Alison Levett

As the RNLI’s only residential lifeboat station, where families live permanently alongside six operational crew, Humber RNLI lifeboat station is unique.

The residential aspect of the lifeboat station brings with it a number of challenges and, as a result, the RNLI has been reviewing the way the lifeboat station operates for several years.

Our crew make many sacrifices to enable them to save lives at sea – a role they would be unable to carry out without the full support of their families – and the RNLI has a duty of care to both its crew members and to the families who live on the Point. We want to ensure our crew members have a satisfactory work-life balance, with appropriate time off from operational duty and their place of work. The current way of working means this is impossible to achieve and so we are moving towards a more acceptable pattern of work.

It has also become increasingly clear that the continuous erosion of Spurn Point and regular breaching of the road will make it difficult to sustain community life for much longer. Last winter alone (2011-2012), the road was breached six times, making access impossible at times without a 4x4 vehicle. Travel for the crew members’ families to and from work, school, the shops etc can be difficult and sometimes dangerous. As the RNLI can no longer guarantee the safety and comfort of the families living on the Point, it has become imperative that we progress plans to move them away from the lifeboat station.

In the future, Humber lifeboat station will be run with two shifts of five full-time lifeboat crew – creating four new full-time jobs. The duty crew will stay on the Point for six days at a time and will then have six days off. In addition to the permanent crew members, a number of relief and volunteer RNLI crew will cover for holidays and other periods of absence. This will enable the RNLI to give volunteer lifeboatmen and women from around the coast the opportunity to gain valuable sea-going experience in the challenging conditions of the Humber Estuary and North Sea.

The RNLI has undertaken a full consultation period with the six lifeboat crew and their families, to make the move as smooth as possible, and these discussions are ongoing. The RNLI is supporting the families through this transition and most are making arrangements to move off the Point over the next three months, taking into account their individual needs and circumstances. 

Although this is clearly a major change to the way the lifeboat station is manned, the RNLI is committed to maintaining a 24/7 lifeboat service at Spurn Point and our charity’s lifesaving service will not be compromised in any way.

Humber RNLI Superintendent Coxswain Dave Steenvoorden said: ‘The crew and our families know that this is the end of an era but it is one that we have been expecting for some time. Humber lifeboat station has been run in the same way for 201 years and we all know that our way of life is not really compatible with a 21st century way of living and working.

‘At the moment, the crew work for six days and have one day a week off. We are very tied to the station and have very little opportunity to spend time with our families away from the Point. We are all looking forward to having a much better work-life balance, and to being able to switch off from work completely for six days at a time.

‘The difficulties we have keeping the road open and maintaining access to the lifeboat station are a constant concern. There have been times when families have been stranded and unable to get back to their homes and that is clearly not an acceptable situation. The dangers were highlighted last November when we had to rescue a lady who became trapped on the Point when her car was engulfed by a tidal surge.

‘Although we are all sad that family life on the Point is coming to an end, there really is no alternative. We are viewing this very much as a new beginning and the start of the next chapter in the proud history of Humber lifeboat station.’ 

RNLI media contact

For more information please contact Alison Levett, RNLI PR Manager, North on 01642 750585 or at alison_levett@rnli.org.uk

Back to News Centre

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland from 237 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 180 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.


The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland