Remembering sacrifice and courage at RNLI Rye Harbour

Lifeboats News Release

At this time of the year, in particular, the thoughts of the people of Rye Harbour Village turn to the events of November 1928

Head and shoulders photograph of Cecil Marchant

RNLI/KT Bruce

Cecil Marchant

‘That morn, a boy on Camber beach the Mary Stanford saw,

Capsized by such a mighty wave as she came back to shore,

So he ran to tell his father and the dismal news was spread:

It’s no more the boathouse, or the lifeboat, all the crew is lost.

Brave crewmen put their duty first and reckoned not the cost.’ The Mary Stanford shanty

On the fifteenth, early in the morning, the maroons went off to call the crew of the Mary Stanford to the boathouse for a launch to go to the aid of a stricken vessel, the SS Alice, off Dungeness. The lifeboat launched in the teeth of a mighty storm which was to cause the death of all seventeen crew-members. It remains the worst such loss of life in the history of the RNLI.

The moment of the Mary Stanford's eventual capsizing was witnessed later that morning by a fifteen-year old boy, Cecil Edwin Marchant, on Camber beach. He ran to tell his parents, who had a shop and social club in Camber village, but was not at first believed. The lifeboat capsized? No survivors? Surely not! The news spread quickly and people ran onto the beach to see if they could help, but to no avail. In later years Cecil went on to drive HGVs for local firm Jempson’s and for the East Kent Bus company. His part in the Mary Stanford story is recognised in Camber by a road named in his honour: Marchant's Close.

This year, because of current restrictions, there can be no service of remembrance at the Church of the Holy Spirit in the Harbour: no lighting of candles or singing of hymns. But in the hearts and minds of villagers, and particularly amongst the volunteers of the current lifeboat station, there will be remembrance and pride. It is clear from the passion and commitment of today's lifeboat crew, training hard through this year of lockdowns and restrictions, that the Mary Stanford tradition of courage and selflessness in the service of saving lives at sea continues unchecked.

RNLI Media contacts

· Martin Bruce, Rye Harbour RNLI volunteer Deputy Lifeboat Press Officer (07789) 818878 martinthebruce@gmail.com

· Paul Dunt, Regional Media Officer (South East), 0207 6207426, 07785 296252 paul_dunt@rnli.org.uk

· For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789

RNLI online: For more information on the RNLI please visit http://www.rnli.org/. News releases and other media resources, including RSS feeds, downloadable photos and video, are available at the RNLI News Centre.

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 237 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 180 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.

The Mary Stanford lifeboat upside down on Camber beach, In the background is a tank used to turn her over.

RNLI/unknown

The capsized Mary Stanford on Camber beach with the tank used to right her
The stone statue of a lifeboat crewman on the memorial to the Mary Stanford in the churhchyard of Rye Harbour

RNLI/Martin Bruce

The memorial to the Mary Stanford crew in the churchyard at Rye Harbour

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.

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 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.

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