Duke of Kent celebrates 50 years as RNLI President
His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent has reached five decades of service and commitment to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) as their President.
Succeeding both his father and mother in 1969 when he became President of the charity, The Duke regularly visits lifeboat stations nationwide and has attended many RNLI events in support of the 24/7 search and rescue service.
In those 50 years, His Royal Highness has seen the RNLI go through some major changes, from new lifeboats with greater lifesaving capability, to the introduction of lifeboats on the Thames and lifeguards on beaches.
The Duke was involved in a significant change for the charity in 1976 when he officially opened the new Headquarters for the RNLI in Poole, Dorset.
It was at the Headquarters in 2005 when His Royal Highness attended the naming of a new all-weather lifeboat, The Duke of Kent. This Severn class lifeboat is part of the RNLI’s relief fleet, used to cover stations when their lifeboats are not operational.
The Duke, as he has done throughout his 50 years as RNLI President, met with volunteers at several Scottish lifeboat stations this week. He listened to stories from volunteers in fundraising and education along with rescue stories from crew members past and present.
Accompanying His Royal Highness this week was Rear Admiral Roger Lockwood, chair of the RNLI Scottish Council.
Roger said: ‘It has been my honour over the last two days to accompany The Duke on visits to the Lifeboat Stations on the east coast of Scotland. His 50 years as the President of the RNLI show themselves in his very clear and deep understanding of what the RNLI achieves together with the importance of the volunteer ethos of the Institution. There have been many changes in the RNLI since The Duke assumed the Presidency, but what has not changed is the courage and selflessness of the lifeboat crews and the dedication and enthusiasm of their supporters, be it preparing the lifeboat for launch or raising the funds to allow them to do so. The members of the visited stations were delighted to welcome His Royal Highness as he marks his half century as President’.
Echoing the views of Roger is Paul Boissier, RNLI Chief Executive, who commended The Duke’s ambassadorial work with the charity.
Paul said: 'As our president, His Royal Highness has provided unwavering support to the RNLI for almost 50 years. An incredible achievement. He has been a true advocate and ambassador for all RNLI volunteers. The Duke has visited almost all of the RNLI lifeboat stations around our coast and attended countless lifeboat naming and station opening events, thanking hundreds of crew members, fundraisers, supporters and staff. Our president's warmth, generosity and understanding of our lifesaving work is incredibly valued by this charity, the time His Royal Highness spends with each volunteer is never forgotten.'
During his visits to RNLI lifeboat stations, His Royal Highness has connected with many volunteers whose courage and dedication will ensure the charity continues to save lives at sea for many a year to come.
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 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.