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Mary Stanford Lifeboat Memorial Service takes place in Rye Harbour

Lifeboats News Release

The Mary Stanford Lifeboat Memorial Service took place on Sunday 20 November at The Church of the Holy Spirit at Rye Harbour.

RNLI/Stephen Griffin

The Mayor of Rye, Cllr Jonathan Breeds, lays a wreath at the Mary Stanford Memorial

On the morning of 15 November 1928 the Rye Harbour lifeboat, the Mary Stanford, was launched in heavy seas to aid the stricken cargo ship SS Alice but capsized with the loss of all 17 crew members. The effect on this close-knit community will never be forgotten.

The disaster is still the largest loss of life from one lifeboat in the RNLI's history and the average age of the crew was only 29 years old.

The service was conducted by Canon David Frost, Rector of Rye, to a congregation which included lifeboat crew volunteers from Rye Harbour and Hastings, and had standing room only, as it was so well attended.

A wreath laying ceremony and act of remembrance took place in the graveyard afterwards and the Mayor of Rye, Councillor Jonathan Breeds, placed one of the wreaths which was followed by a rendition of 'The Last Post’.

The service served to remind everyone all of the bravery and dedication of all lifeboat crews who often risk their lives to save others.

RNLI media contacts

  • Steve Griffin, RNLI Rye Harbour Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer
    07710 297606/

  • Tim Ash, RNLI Public Relations Manager (London/South East/East)
    0207 6207426 / 07785 296252 /

  • 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, 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