Holyhead RNLI Coxswain to join London’s Remembrance Sunday Cenotaph service
A lifesaving volunteer from Holyhead is preparing to represent the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in the annual Remembrance Sunday Cenotaph service this weekend, marking the first time in history the charity has been officially represented.
Brian Thomson, 64, from Holyhead, is one of 19 people from across the UK and Ireland who will represent the RNLI in the official Remembrance Sunday commemoration in London’s Whitehall on Sunday 13 November.
Organised by the Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Cenotaph Service and Parade is a poignant event in which thousands of people gather to remember the sacrifices people have made throughout history, to safeguard the memory of those who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy today.
Brian has been a volunteer lifeboat crew member at Holyhead RNLI Lifeboat Station for over 40 years, and is currently the station’s coxswain.
Brian, who is married with two grown up children and grandchildren, joined the crew as a volunteer in 1972. He became 2nd coxswain in 1986 and was made coxswain in 2002. He has been awarded an MBE for his services, and is due to retire at the end of this year.
Although thousands of RNLI volunteers have publicly attended Remembrance Sunday events throughout history, this is the first time the RNLI has been formally invited to take part in the service and parade, joining 48 other organisations and associations who will also be officially represented.
The RNLI played its own role in the famed Dunkirk “little ships” evacuation in 1940. 20 RNLI lifeboats were among the 700 private boats that sailed from Ramsgate to Dunkirk between 26 May and 4 June 1940 as part of Operation Dynamo, helping to rescue more than 338,000 British and French soldiers who were trapped on the beaches at Dunkirk during the Second World War.
Paul Boissier, Chief Executive of the RNLI, said to be invited to formally take part on Remembrance Sunday was both an honour and a privilege: ‘Like so many other associations, the RNLI played its part in the two World Wars. Apart from the many volunteers who went off to fight, many lifeboats joined the flotilla of Little Ships to pull off the audacious evacuation in 1940.
‘It fills me with immense pride that we will be formally represented in the Cenotaph service as part of the annual commemoration. This is the first time in history the RNLI will be represented and I know that on the day our volunteers thoughts will be with the many millions who gave their own lives so that today we can enjoy the freedom we have.’
The RNLI remains a charity that is independent of the Government and relies almost entirely on voluntary contributions to fund its lifesaving work. In 2015 the charity’s lifeboats launched a total of 8,228 times and rescued 7,973 people, saving 348 lives. Meanwhile RNLI beach lifeguards responded to a total of 15,714 incidents, assisted 18,181 people, and saved 94 lives.
RNLI media contacts
Vicki Owens, Holyhead Lifeboat Press Officer, 07531 681409
Eleri Roberts, RNLI Public Relations Manager (Wales and West.) 01745 585162/07771 941390
Chris Cousens RNLI Press Officer (Wales and West) 01745 585162/07748 265496
For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789
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 Ireland from 238 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 240 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
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