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Real life rescue unfolds at Rye Harbour RNLI lifeboat station open day

Lifeboats News Release

Crowds who attended Rye Harbour RNLI open day witnessed the crew get diverted from a demonstration to rescue a father and his two young children when their small dinghy's outboard motor failed in the River Rother.

Dingy and children in lifeboat safely returned to station

RNLI/Stephen Griffin

Open Day Rescue

As everyone was enjoying Stormy Sam, the RNLI mascot, dancing with the Cinque Ports Morris Men the new inshore lifeboat, Hello Herbie II, was being put through its paces on the River Rother.

As the volunteer crew sped towards the river mouth they spotted a small inflatable dinghy in difficulty, with an man and two small children on board. As they gave assistance to hold the dinghy off the river bank it became obvious that the outboard motor refused to start, so they took the two children on board the lifeboat and towed the dinghy back to the safety of the lifeboat slipway.

This was the first rescue carried out under the control of the new Lifeboat Operations Manager, Tony Edwards, who said: ‘This wasn’t the most difficult task for the crew volunteers to undertake but we are here to ensure the safety of all members of the public in all circumstances. Events such as this can quickly escalate out of control and can become dangerous, especially in such a small vessel with two young children on board.

'The open day was very enjoyable for all who attended and Rye Harbour RNLI are very are grateful to everyone who gave their time and effort to make it a success.'

Respect the Water is the RNLI’s drowning prevention campaign. It highlights the risks, advises how to avoid danger and survive in an emergency situation. Know what to do – visit

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 /
  • Paul Dunt, RNLI Press Officer (London/East/South East) on 0207 6207416, 07786 668825,
  • 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