Lifeboat volunteers at RNLI Lyme Regis - their life and times in a new book
The dramatic life and times of Lyme Regis lifeboat men and women - and the lifeboats themselves - are captured in a new book from the RNLI and due to be launched on 22 July, the first day of this year's Lifeboat Week in the town.
Written by the lifeboat station's volunteer press officer, retired newspaper and BBC journalist Richard Horobin, the fully illustrated book is part of the charity's history book project.
It tells how a makeshift lifeboat service started in the town in 1826, and how a Christmas tragedy led to Lyme Regis getting a 'proper' lifeboat powered by men with sails and oars 27 years later.
With much help from local historians and lifeboat supporters, the author has brought to life a fascinating collection of stories about dedicated volunteers who ran a lifeboat service in the town, despite all the odds, over a period of almost 160 years. How they would row the lifeboat for hours on end to reach a stricken vessel...no 115hp engines such as power today's lifeboat.
There is the crew member shipwrecked eight times as a mariner; the coxswain who served the lifeboat for 34 years and was famed for his strength, picking a man up with one arm and placing him on a table. The story of an MP who vanished without trace over Lyme Bay after being trapped in a hot air balloon. The dramatic episode when a ship was torpedoed just outside Lyme Regis harbour, and which had an amusing twist amid the tragedy and chaos.
And in more recent times the amazing survival of a couple whose helicopter crashed into Lyme Bay in dense fog; the tragic tale of the severely disabled woman whose wheelchair fell into the harbour and the desperate attempts made to save her.
There are the lighter moments, too, such as the crew Christmas party when the annual awards are presented, .including the Bent Propeller trophy.
The story of Lifeboat Week, from the early 70s, includes the ditching of a Navy helicopter, which was not part of the event, although many of the hundreds who witnessed it thought it was.
The new book will be available from the lifeboat shop on the Cobb, and other outlets in the town, from 22 July, price £8.95 with all proceeds going to the RNLI, the charity that saves lives at sea.
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
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