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Thirty years of lifesaving in Cleethorpes

Lifeboats News Release

Cleethorpes RNLI Lifeboat Station is celebrating 30 years of saving lives at sea this month.

The station at Cleethorpes was declared ‘on service’ on 29 June 1987. There was an independent lifeboat in Cleethorpes at the time, run by the Vigilantes group, and a previous RNLI lifeboat station, based at the Humber Mouth Yacht Club, had previously closed in 1980.

Since then, the volunteer crews have launched nearly 1,200 times, rescued almost 800 people and saved over 240 lives.

In just a six day period earlier this month, the lifeboat launched to 6 emergency calls - 3 persons reported in the water, two broken down vessels and one tidal cutoff.

Current volunteer Helmsman Steve Burton was on the crew when the station launched in 1987 and has seen many changes over the years “In the last 30 years, equipment has gone from the stone age to the modern day. Today’s society is also different and the sorts of jobs and volunteers we get are very different too.”

Steve remembers: “On the day the station opened there was a ceremony. One of the very first jobs we had was to a burning speedboat just off the pier, so we started with a bang!”

Steve has also been in charge of school and youth group visits to the station for the last 28 years and has taught many thousands of children from the local area and further afield about the work of the charity and how to stay safe at the seaside.

Throughout the last 30 years, volunteers at the station have shown an unwavering willingness to drop everything and respond to an emergency at any time of day or night. They have also shown incredible bravery, and crew at the station have been awarded one silver and four bronze medals for Gallantry during that time. There have also been 3 Framed Letters of Thanks from the Institution, and 2 Thanks of the Institution Inscribed on Vellum.

Another of the original volunteers at the station was David Steenvorden, best known as Spanish, who is now Coxswain and Station Manager at Humber Lifeboat Station on Spurn Point.

Spanish recalls: “When I found out the RNLI were opening a Lifeboat station at the bottom of my road and being a local fisherman I was front and centre volunteering to join the crew. What I did not realise then it would be the start of a very successful career as a Lifeboatman. I was honoured to be Helm at Cleethorpes before moving to Humber Lifeboat in 1990. 30 years after joining the crew at Cleethorpes I find myself the Station manager/Coxswain at the Humber Lifeboat station. I am very proud that my start and roots are firmly at Cleethorpes Lifeboat station.”

Like all lifeboat stations around the coast, Cleethorpes receives no government funding and is supported entirely by voluntary contributions. A station like Cleethorpes costs around £90,000 a year to run.

Local fundraisers have supported the station since plans for its construction were first made. Fundraising branch Chairlady, Mary Thomas, has been fundraising for the RNLI for 42 years and organised balls, dinners and other events in the 1980’s to raise the £45,000 initial cost of the station. Mary said “We hope soon to begin fundraising for a new Lifeboat Station in Cleethorpes to replace the current building and allow a second lifeboat to operate from here.”


The attached document gives more detail of the history of the RNLI in the Cleethorpes & Grimsby area.

For more information or to arrange photographs or interviews, contact Matt McNally, Lifeboat Press Officer at Cleethorpes on 07771-797556

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