Veteran RNLI fundraiser from Stonehaven receives award in New Year Honours

Lifeboats News Release

Stonehaven RNLI’s veteran fundraiser Karen Smith has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for her services to the charity.


Karen Smith

Karen, 72, first got involved with the RNLI in 1968 through her mother-in-law, who was treasurer for the MacDuff station. She has been involved with Stonehaven RNLI for 39 years and is currently the Vice-President, Secretary and Assistant Box Secretary.

She’s also held the positions of President, Vice Chairman, Committee Member, Box Secretary and several other fundraising staff roles over the years.

When she became Box Secretary, Karen’s tenacity led to yearly income for Stonehaven RNLI rising from £5,000 to £17,000. She was also a key instigator in securing a £25,000 donation from a local company.

She gained promotion from having responsibility for fundraising in a single, small area to having responsibility for fundraising for the entire Grampian and Highland region.

This year, Karen is celebrating her Golden Wedding Anniversary with Ian, who worked as a crew member at Stonehaven RNLI until it closed in 1984 and, since it reopened three years ago, has helped run and clean the boathouse, quickly becoming Boathouse Manager.

Karen said: “I was really overwhelmed when I heard I’d been awarded a BEM. I don’t like all the fuss but I’m very proud all the same. I’m looking at it as an award for everyone at the RNLI. In particular, all at Stonehaven RNLI, which is celebrating its 60th birthday on January 14.

“I was looking through the sixty years of minutes, counting up all the donations, and it’s come to over £350,000. It’s fantastic to have such a generous community supporting the charity. The other day, we raised almost £900 – just in donations – when Santa arrived on the lifeboat to cheering crowds.

Paul Boissier, Chief Executive of the RNLI, said: “Karen clearly has a genuine desire to help others and this makes her a great ambassador for the RNLI. She is a great asset to the charity, not just because of her fundraising excellence, but also her drive and unyielding passion for engaging the public in the RNLI’s work. She is a much-loved, very dedicated, and seemingly unstoppable lady who is very worthy of receiving this honour.”

Notes to editor:

  • Photo of Karen available.
  • Karen was born in Orkney, later moving to Edinburgh (where she met Ian), and finally settling in Stonehaven in 1978.
  • She has served as an elected volunteer member of the RNLI Scottish Council.
  • Karen serves as an elder at her church and has been an active member for many years

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The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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