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64 Years at the Helm of the RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

RNLI lifeboat crew have shared their memories of meeting the Queen as Her Majesty’s 90th birthday celebrations get into full swing

Since becoming the charity’s Patron, 64 years ago in 1952, Her Majesty has named several lifeboats, officially opened the RNLI College in Poole and Cowes Lifeboat Station, and met with a number of volunteers, thanking them for everything they do to save lives at sea.

RNLI Chairman Charles Hunter-Pease said: ‘The respect, fondness and admiration that our lifeboat crews have for our Patron is incredibly apparent. If you look at any photos of the Queen’s visits to our stations, all of the lifeboat crew and supporters that she meets are beaming from ear to ear. It is a hugely special moment to have your hard work and dedication recognised in that way. We are extremely appreciative of all the Queen’s support over the years.’

The RNLI will be joining celebrations for our Patron’s birthday at the iconic Patron’s Lunch to publicly thank her for 64 years of support and to show that we are proud of the lifesaving service our charity has provided to the nation. Ten of our volunteers from Scarborough Lifeboat Station will be attending including Rudi Barman, our most recent crew member to receive a Gallantry Medal. 

Rudi Barman said: 'I’m really looking forward to representing the RNLI at The Patron’s Lunch. It’s such an exciting opportunity and I feel honoured and incredibly proud that I am one of the RNLI volunteers who has been selected to attend such a special occasion.'

We have selected some of our favourite photographs and memories from when our volunteers have met the Queen over the years to celebrate her 64 years as our Patron, supporting our volunteers who save lives at sea.

Robbie Maiden – Hartlepool Lifeboat Station
Robbie Maiden, Coxswain at Hartlepool met the Queen back in 1977. The Queen had come to Hartlepool as part of her Silver Jubilee celebrations to name their lifeboat ‘The Scout.’  Robbie remembers: 'I was 10 years old at the time and dressed in a small lifeboat gansey and bobble hat. I had to present a big book about the RNLI and the Royal family to the Queen. I was told she wouldn’t talk to me but she did and asked me about the lifeboat. I told her my Dad was the coxswain and that’s what I wanted to be. I was proud as punch.'

Gary Morgan – Burry Port Lifeboat Station
Gary Morgan, Helm at Burry Port, met the Queen on her Golden Jubilee tour of Wales in 2002 when she came down to Burry Port to open the Millennium Coastal Park and place a plaque outside the station. Gary remembers: 'it was a cold and windy day and we’d done a full clean and polish of the boathouse for the opening of the marina. It was absolutely packed down the harbour that day, all the local school children had turned up and it was one of those occasions where they were all waving flags. There was great anticipation for the Queen’s arrival and meeting her was a personal thrill. Her Majesty spoke to each and every one of us crew members asking us how we were, and it was such a warming feeling that she took the time to have a conversation with us. It’s one of those things where when people say ‘who have you met famous?’ you can tell them about meeting the Queen, it was a bucket list experience which I have well and truly ticked off.'

Mark Southwell – Cowes Lifeboat Station
Mark Southwell, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Cowes who hosted the Queen when she opened Cowes Station as the last engagement of her jubilee tour, remembers the event as: ‘a cracking day where the sun shone from dawn to dusk and everything looked amazing, including Cowes itself, which looked a million dollars.’ Mark had everyone in stitches, even the Queen herself was laughing, when his speech was interrupted by a passing ferry playing ‘Rule Britannia’. Mark said: ‘When you speak to the Queen, she’s genuinely interested in what you’re saying and makes you feel relaxed. Overall, the general pleasantness, cheeriness and happiness is what made the day really special, it wasn’t the stuffy, formal thing I’d imagined it would be, it was really nice.’

Notes to editors
• Photo credit: RNLI

• Her Majesty The Queen has been Patron of the RNLI since 1952. She took on the role when George VI died. His obituary in the Lifeboat magazine stated that he continued the tradition that the reigning sovereign be the head of the Lifeboat Service. He became President in 1936 when King Edward VIII came to the throne and following the abdication later that year he became Patron.

For more information or photos please contact Evie Prescott on 01202 336511 or [email protected]

Key facts about the RNLI

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 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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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 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.