Unsung heroes: Mark Wordsworth

Mark is an RNLI trustee and former lifeboat crew member, with exciting plans for the RNLI’s 200th anniversary. 

Close up portrait of Mark Wordsworth, wearing all-weather crew kit

Photo: RNLI/Nigel Millard

Meet Mark, an RNLI trustee and former lifeboat crew member

What first inspired you to get involved? 

The Penlee lifeboat disaster in 1981. I was at university then and it was covered in the newspapers for days. I read about it and thought: ‘If I can, I’ll be a lifeboat volunteer one day’. I became a crew member in 2006 in Alderney. I did that for 11 years around my job – it was the best thing I’ve ever done. 

You’re chair of the steering group that’s got big plans for the RNLI’s bicentenary. Tell us about it. 

The group recognises that the RNLI saves lives in the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man – all these different entities form our family. We’re planning and hosting an exciting series of events in these individual nations and regions to mark the RNLI’s bicentenary. 

Are the rumours of an RNLI musical true? 

There could be an RNLI musical on the horizon – it’s one of many great ideas we’re supporting. We’d love to take the show to towns and cities as well as the coast, to places where people may have never seen a lifeboat, to give them a connection to the RNLI. 

What will the RNLI look like in another 200 years’ time? 

I hope we’re recognised as a global humanitarian organisation like the Red Cross. We have nearly 200 years of experience and are the gold standard in saving lives at sea. In 200 years we should still be independent, with volunteers making serious inroads into the 260,000 people who drown annually around the world. At its beating heart, the RNLI will still be about our lifesaving work.

You can hear Mark on an episode of Dan Snow’s History Hit podcast, where the two maritime history enthusiasts explore how the RNLI came to be founded and discuss some of our most notable rescues. 

Listen to History Hit

Join us

Find out more about the RNLI’s events, exhibitions, and roadshows to mark our anniversary on the RNLI 200 page.