Southend lifeboat crew meet couple with driving ambition to support the RNLI
Crew members at Southend Lifeboat Station welcomed an unusual visitor yesterday (Aug 23) when a Porsche sports car, decked out in the RNLI colours of orange and blue, arrived on the seafront as part of an epic fund-raising tour of the charity’s stations.
Belinda and James Richardson aim to drive the Porsche 911 anti-clockwise around the whole of the UK and the Republic of Ireland, visiting all 238 lifeboat stations within 911 hours. The couple hope to raise more than £238 per lifeboat station visited, with a target of raising more than £56,000 for the RNLI by the end of their journey.
Their marathon drive began at Teddington Lifeboat Station on the Thames at 9.11am yesterday and Southend was their first visit to a coastal station.
James said they got the idea for the fund-raising adventure after watching the BBC2 series ‘Saving Lives at Sea’ which features RNLI volunteers carrying out dramatic rescues. A third series of the series began on BBC2 this week (Tuesday August 21).
‘We’ve always been fans of the RNLI and we love the British coastline,’ explained Belinda. ‘What the volunteers do is so incredible. We are both retired and this is our way of putting something back’.
The couple have already experienced how busy the RNLI’s stations can be. When they arrived at Chiswick Lifeboat Station on the way to Southend, the crew were dashing out on a shout as they arrived.
‘It couldn’t be going better,’ said James, who described how the challenge had taken more than 10 months to organise. ‘We haven’t got lost yet!’
During their journey James and Belinda will be making 36 ferry crossings to reach some of the charity’s most remote stations and if all goes to plan they will end their drive at the RNLI’s busiest station, Tower Lifeboat Station on the Thames, on Sunday September 30.
For more information check out the 911 challenge social media links:
Photo 1: James and Belinda Richardson pictured with Southend crew members (left to right) Tony Clarke (visits team) David Cartright (trainee helm and hovercraft pilot) Tony Bonham (D class helm and hovercraft commander) Alex Gibson (trainee helm and hovercraft pilot) and Sean Pearse (helm and hovercraft commander).
Photo 2: Belinda and James Richardson.
Photo 3: The couple prepare to leave Southend to travel to their next stop – Burnham-on-Crouch RNLI station.
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Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.