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RNLI crew goes head to head with the Beast of the East

Lifeboats News Release

With severe weather continuing to grip the UK, the crew of the Lowestoft RNLI lifeboat used the stormy conditions and driving snow as the perfect opportunity to put their rough weather boat handling skills to the test.

As the charity that saves lives at sea, RNLI volunteer crews at stations across the UK and the Republic of Ireland have to be ready to respond to an emergency in any weather, at any time of day. So while most people were heading indoors, the crew cleared the snow from their lifeboats and took to the sea for an exercise in temperatures equivalent to -12C.

Volunteers from the lifeboat station launched in force 8 and force 9 easterly gales and severe gales in two of the RNLI’s state of the art Shannon lifeboats, which are powered by water jets and are specifically designed to cope with the harshest of conditions.

Lowestoft’s Shannon Patsy Knight and an RNLI relief Shannon lifeboat, Reg, were launched at 9.00am yesterday morning (Thursday 1 March) and remained at sea until around 2.30pm.

‘The conditions were pretty extreme out there with the seas were rolling up to five metres high,’ said RNLI crew member Nigel Millard who was on board and filmed the exercise. ‘We were exercising over an area called the Newcome Sand, about a mile off Lowestoft and it was a very confused sea. It was as challenging conditions as I’ve ever been in.’

‘We never know what conditions we are going to be called out to when our pagers go, so this was an excellent opportunity for us to train for those extreme conditions. Both boats were crewed by volunteers from Lowestoft and they did an amazing job and the way the boats handled was incredible.’

‘With the harsh weather continuing across the country, we hope people will heed the warnings and keep indoors, but if we are called to launch, exercises such as this show we are ready to go to sea and save lives in the most testing of conditions,’ added Nigel.


Photograph and video: Nigel Millard

Media contacts:

  • Michael Howes, Lowestoft RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, on 07814 468917 or
  • 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
Lowestoft RNLI's Shannon lifeboat 'Patsy Knight' and crew being put to the test

RNLI/Nigel Millard

Lowestoft RNLI's Shannon lifeboat 'Patsy Knight' and crew being put to the test

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 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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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