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RNLI launches their Mayday appeal with 100m sand lifeboat

Lifeboats News Release

RNLI lifesavers create giant 100m sand lifeboat on Scarborough beach and call on supporters to take part in ‘the Mayday Mile’

  • New data has revealed the RNLI lifeboat crews and lifeguards saved 349 lives in 2020, almost one life every single day.
  • In the summer months alone, RNLI lifeboat crews saved 140 lives, a 32% increase on the previous year.
  • But with lockdown easing, the charity expects this summer to be their busiest yet.
    The RNLI is putting out an urgent Mayday Call - asking the public to go the distance and take part in their ‘Mayday Mile’ challenge to raise vital funds for their brave lifeboat crews and lifeguards.
Tuesday 27th April 2021: The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has today released its rescue figures for 2020, showing that a total of 349 lives were saved by the charity’s lifeboat crews and lifeguards throughout the year. That’s almost one life saved every single day.

The data has also revealed that last summer alone (1 June – 31 August), RNLI lifeboat crews saved 140 lives an increase of 32% from the year previous – after coronavirus travel restrictions led to people flocking to the coast around the UK and Ireland.

The charity also reported 42 lifeboat launches per day over the summer period, which is almost double the number launched throughout the rest of the year.

With lockdown restrictions easing once again, and huge numbers of people planning to ‘staycation’ at the British coast, the RNLI are anticipating that summer 2021 will be their busiest yet – but more funds are needed to ensure that their lifesaving service is able to keep everyone safe.

In preparation for the busy summer period, the RNLI are putting out their own urgent Mayday call, by asking supporters to take part in The Mayday Mile. Whether you choose to swim it, run it, cycle it, dance it or simply walk it, The Mayday Mile challenges you to cover one mile in any way you like between Saturday 1 May – Monday 31 May, whilst raising vital funds to ensure RNLI Lifesavers can continue to keep people safe at the coast.

To raise awareness of The Mayday Mile and encourage people across the UK and Ireland to lend their support, a group of RNLI Lifesavers have helped to create a giant sand drawing on Scarborough Beach, inspired by a Shannon Class lifeboat – the newest class of RNLI lifeboat used by the charity to save lives at sea.

Standing at the back of the striking 100m anamorphic lifeboat – which was created by the RNLI alongside expert sand artists, Sand in Your Eye – is a RNLI crew member, to give the illusion that the craft is answering a Mayday call out at sea.

The lifeboat’s bow features the number 349, to highlight the number of lives that were saved by the charity’s brave lifeguards and lifeboat crews last year.

Adam Sheader, Volunteer Crew Member, RNLI Scarborough, says:

'It’s amazing to see the number of people we rescued last year across the UK & Ireland represented by this installation - it makes me very proud to be a volunteer crew member. For almost 200 years, we have answered Mayday calls across the UK and Ireland, and my fellow crew members have often risked their lives to help rescue others.

'Heading down to the coast or out on the water during the summer is a great way to have fun and stay active. But, if you are not careful, it's a lot easier to get into trouble in the water than you might think. I hope seeing the lifeboat, and knowing the number on the bow represents someone like them, inspires people to answer our Mayday call - after all no one knows when they might need our help.

'Through The Mayday Mile, we’re hoping to raise enough funds to keep crews and lifeguards kitted and trained to deal with emergencies – and to come home safe themselves. So please answer our Mayday call and help us to get one step closer to the happy, fun, and safe summer which we all deserve this year!'

All monies raised through The Mayday Mile will give RNLI lifesavers the training, equipment, and kit that they need to rescue others and come home safe themselves, as well as allowing the charity to continue delivering water safety activity for those visiting the coast.

The Mayday Mile challenge will be running as part of the RNLI’s wider Mayday fundraising campaign from Saturday 1 May to Monday 31 May. To sign up and log your miles – or to simply make a donation to support the Mayday campaign, visit

You can also share your story and join the conversation on social media by using hashtag #MyMaydayMile.


About Mayday:

How your money helps:
  • £25 could provide a pair of sea-going gloves to protect the RNLI’s lifesavers from wind-chill and rope burn.
  • £55 could buy a pair of sturdy, protective, non-slip boots to keep volunteers sure-footed at sea.
  • £100 could help the RNLI to bring water safety lessons to school children for the summer season ahead.

How to stay safe this summer:

  • Protect and keep an eye on your family.
  • Stay together and do not use inflatables.
  • In an emergency dial 999 for the coastguard.
RNLI media contacts:

For more information, please telephone The PHA Group on 020 7025 1350 or email: [email protected]

RNLI/Sky Filming

A 100m Shannon lifeboat was etched into the sand at Scarborough beach in aid of the RNLI's Mayday campaign.


RNLI volunteer working on the lifeboat sand art on Scarborough beach in aid of the RNLI's Mayday campaign.

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.