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Tributes to Little & Broad Haven volunteer who helped raise over £500,000

Lifeboats News Release

Tributes have been paid to a woman who spearheaded raising more than half a million pounds for the RNLI.

RNLI/Matthew Ford

Mary receiving her honorary life governor award

Mary Whitewright had given over 40 years’ service and was one of the founding members of the branch – then called the Ladies Guild - at Little & Broad Haven when it started back in 1975. Earlier this year Mary received the highest honour bestowed on non-crew volunteers by the Institution when she was made an Honorary Life Governor.

Mary who sadly passed away Sunday 6 November at the age of 76 had been secretary of the branch for over 37 years.

The Branch has received a string of awards in its 40-year history, including five Gold Awards and four Bars to Gold Awards. Speaking at the 40th anniversary dinner Mary said : ‘We have always said that fundraising can be fun and we have always made it fun. We have had so many laughs over the years.”

Mary Whitewright, who had lived in Little Haven was a local councillor among helping out on various other committees. When asked recently what her first memories of the branch were she said “I was firstly asked to raise money for a scanner for the crew which cost around £200, I was successful and managed to raise the entire amount over the single weekend. Ever since I have continued in the same vein”

Andy Grey, who has been involved with Little & Broad Haven RNLI for 36 years and is the current Lifeboat Operations Manager at the station, said: ‘This is a very sad time and our thoughts and prayers go out to all of Mary’s family.

‘Mary was here at the lifeboat station when I started as crew in 1982 and she has been here ever since.

‘She was instrumental in organising many fund raising activities over the years, after using the pub she ran as the venue for fish & chip suppers, raffles and many other successful activities.’

Andy added: ‘Mary’s energetic nature and vibrant personality always ensured she had plenty of help at all the events.

‘Recently at a very successful celebration of 40 years Branch Dinner, she managed to acquire the service of the legendary Welsh Prop Graham Price to speak at the occasion,

In Graham's words I was not asked or even invited - Mary just told me that I would do it for the RNLI, that's how much she loved the organisation.’

‘Such was Mary’s impact, for every emergency call out Mary would stop what ever she was doing and would be the first person on the front clearing people off the slip and stopping the traffic. But never forgetting to put on the yellow vest and donation box in hand.’

‘Mary will certainly leave a lasting memory - a pillar of the community.’

Adele Fuller, RNLI Area Fundraising Manager said:

‘We were deeply saddened to learn of the death of dedicated fundraiser Mary Whitewright on 6 November. She will be missed by all of us at the RNLI and all in her community.

‘The names Mary Whitewright and RNLI were synonymous in Little and Broad Haven. Mary had been associated with the Institution for forty years since she helped found the Little & Broad Haven Ladies Lifeboat Guild. The RNLI has always been close to Mary's heart and she was a supporter for all of her life. She had recently been awarded our prestigious Honorary Life Governors award by RNLI Chairman Charles Hunter-Pease. A wonderful occasion she typically had brought friends and family with her to share in the celebrations at Swansea Town Hall. Charismatic and persuasive, even if you didn’t start out wanting to support the RNLI, Mary had a knack of bringing people into the RNLI family. She served the Branch faithfully for many years, mostly as Secretary but with a spell as Chair and during her tenure she has helped to raise over half a million pounds.

‘We will miss her dreadfully. Not many people make such an impact in life as Mary and we were very proud to call her one of our own.’


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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 237 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and provides a seasonal lifeguard service on 200 beaches around the UK. 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 140,000 lives.


Charity number CHY 2678 in the Republic of Ireland and registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736)


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, Carrybridge 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.

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