HRH The Prince of Wales visits the RNLI College

Lifeboats Statement

Today, (Wednesday 9 June) His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales visited the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s (RNLI) College based in Poole, Dorset to see where the charity’s extraordinary volunteer crew and lifeguards from around the UK and Ireland are trained.

The visit to the RNLI College formed part of a wider visit to the Duchy of Cornwall’s Poundbury development and Dorset, and although marks a first for His Royal Highness, is not a first for The Royal Family. In July 2004, Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh performed the official opening.

During his visit, The Prince of Wales met with RNLI Chairman Stuart Popham and RNLI Chief Executive Mark Dowie and learnt of the challenges the charity has faced during the pandemic, having maintained an operational presence throughout – saving 349 lives in 2020.

Stuart Popham, RNLI Chairman, commented: ‘The last 14 months have been extremely challenging for all charities and the RNLI is no different. Our committed volunteers have maintained a 24/7 rescue service throughout the pandemic and today was an opportunity for The Prince to personally thank some of them for their dedicated service. We are expecting another busy summer as more and more people flock to the UK and Irish coastlines and His Royal Highness’s visit will help raise the profile of our services and how the public can keep themselves safe.

‘Whilst at the College, The Prince of Wales was able to witness, first-hand, the training that RNLI crews undertake, which is fundamental to saving lives. He observed a live demonstration undertaken by the charity’s lifeboat trainers and Poole Lifeboat Station volunteers in the Sea Survival Centre.’

RNLI Chief Executive, Mark Dowie, said: ‘Today we have 55 crew in residence at the College taking part in a variety of courses from casualty care to coastal hydraulics. For much of 2020, we had to suspend many activities to protect the resilience of the service and keep our people safe.

‘Only recently have we returned to a full training programme here at the College and around our lifesaving regions, and to full production in our factories. I am pleased we were able to demonstrate to The Prince the RNLI’s wide range of activities and services we provide here at our Support Centre in Poole.’

The Prince of Wales was later given a tour of the All-weather Lifeboat Centre where staff and apprentices presented the facility where the production and refit of the RNLI’s all-weather lifeboats takes place, including the charity’s latest state-of-the-art lifeboat design, the Shannon.

The RNLI’s Principal Naval Architect, Dr Holly Phillips MBE, said: ‘It was a pleasure to meet The Prince of Wales today and be able to demonstrate the work the teams do at our All-weather Lifeboat Centre. The facility here creates local employment, including apprenticeships in marine engineering and boatbuilding, which ultimately helps to save lives at sea – we simply couldn’t do it without our dependable lifeboat fleet.’

Before departing, His Royal Highness paid his respects at the RNLI Memorial, a sculpture that honours the courage of all lifeboat crew and search and rescue service people lost at sea while endeavouring to save the lives of others.

Notes to editors

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RNLI/Nathan Williams

HRH The Prince of Wales visited the All-weather Lifeboat Centre in Poole, Dorset.

RNLI/Nathan Williams

HRH The Prince of Wales met with Poole RNLI Lifeboat Volunteers and Lifeboat Trainers in the Sea Survival Centre.

RNLI/Nathan Williams

HRH The Prince of Wales met with apprentices and Principal Naval Architect, Dr Holly Phillips MBE, at the All-weather Lifeboat Centre.

RNLI/Nathan Williams

HRH The Prince of Wales met the RNLI's Chief Executive, Mark Dowie, and staff from the RNLI College.

RNLI/Nathan Williams

HRH The Prince of Wales showed his respects at the RNLI Memorial Sculpture alongside RNLI Chairman Stuart Popham.

RNLI/Nathan Williams

HRH The Prince of Wales met with the Shannon production team in the All-weather Lifeboat Centre.

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.

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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.