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West Mersea RNLI crew grateful for surprise online support

Lifeboats News Release

The lifeboat crew of West Mersea RNLI Lifeboat Station have expressed their gratitude to a local woman who prompted a surprise donation of more than £1,000 to help save lives at sea.

The front page of the Just Giving site which was a pleasant surprise for the RNLI

Just Giving

The front page of the Just Giving site which was a pleasant surprise for the RNLI

The donation came about after the lifeboat crew took part in a search for a missing dog on Sunday 8 January, after which a local woman set up a Just Giving page to recognise the volunteer lifeboat crew for their efforts.

The lifeboat launched at 4pm amid reports that a black Labrador named Ella had been spotted swimming in the sea between Mersea and Ray Island. It was believed the dog was the same one that had gone missing from its owner three days earlier.

Martin Wade, Lifeboat Operations Manager at West Mersea RNLI, took up the story: ‘We launched not only out of concern for Ella, but also because in our experience, when animals are in distress, humans often try to assist them and get into danger themselves. We were concerned that people might be looking for Ella on Ray Island and could be at risk of being trapped there by the incoming tide.’

The lifeboat stood guard in the Ray channel for about 15 minutes before Ella was recovered safe and well by another local resident. Apart from being dehydrated and cold, Ella has now made a full recovery.

Martin continued: ‘When she was found we stood down and returned to station, and thought that would be the end of it. So imagine our surprise when we saw on Facebook locally that a woman had launched a fundraising campaign to support us! We didn’t actually do that much on the day, so we are hugely grateful to her for recognising our input and raising funds for us in this way.’

Mersea Island resident Caroline Bowring set up the Just Giving page, with a target of £500. In just a few days, the target has almost been doubled, as the current total stands at £983.

‘That figure may even rise’, said Martin, ‘so once again we say thank you to Caroline and to everyone who has donated so far. The money will be put towards the essential crew training our volunteers in order to save lives at sea.’

Anyone wishing to view the page and donate can visit the page here

West Mersea RNLI Lifeboat Station is one of 237 stations operated by the charity around the coast of the UK and Ireland. The RNLI remains a charity that relies on voluntary contributions to fund its work.

RNLI media contacts

  • Tim Ash, RNLI Public Relations Manager (London/East/South East) on 0207 6207426, 07785 296252
  • For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789

West Mersea RNLI inshore lifeboat 'Just George'

RNLI/West Mersea

West Mersea RNLI inshore lifeboat 'Just George'

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.

Learn more about the RNLI

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 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