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RNLI Fundraisers - the power behind every life saved

Lifeboats News Release

As strange as it may sound, not all branches of the RNLI have a lifeboat. There are 11 such branches in Essex that dedicate themselves to fundraising and raising safety awareness in their communities. One of which is the Brightlingsea branch of the RNLI.

RNLI/Catherine Chick

Brightlingsea RNLI fundraisers

While Brightlingsea may not have a RNLI lifeboat of its own, that hasn’t stopped it playing an important part in the charity’s ability to save lives on the Essex coast. Not only is the harbour a safe port of call for those being rescued, it has also been a safe anchorage for the lifeboats of Clacton, following services in conditions too dangerous to rehouse at Clacton, and shelter has been sought in Brightlingsea Harbour to wait out the storm.

For a short period during WWII after returning from Dunkirk, Clacton RNLI’s lifeboat, Edward Z Dresden, was stationed at Brightlingsea, after the centre of Clacton Pier was blown up preventing access to the boathouse. In fact it was blown up twice - firstly, by a drifting mine and then as an anti-invasion measure, preventing the pier’s use in any possible invasion.

The current Brightlingsea branch was formed in 1980 and boasts an enthusiastic group of 11, which sees them attending different events throughout the year, including: The Brightlingsea Regatta, Brightlingsea Classic Car Show, and even the Brightlingsea Christmas Market, which Catherine Chick (branch press officer) recalls as: ‘Always interesting for our hardy volunteers braving the weather, and finding innovative ways of anchoring the gazebo to various lamp posts, but very rewarding with the support we receive.’ ‘The Blessing of the waters, which is an event particular to our area as we are part of the Cinque Ports, is another important event for us.’

There are events solely organised by the branch, including the ever-popular annual Fish Pie Supper and ‘Call my Bluff’ wine evening, along with the growing popularity of Betty’s Pots being found in handbags and shops throughout the town – these are small condiment jars used for collecting 5p coins. The dedicated team are already planning for the end of coronavirus restrictions with Flag Day in August and a fish and chip night in October.

With the ever-present support of The Motley Crew, a local group that sing sea shanties at various venues, this small group of dedicated volunteers in the last eight years have, with the generosity of the local community, raised £59,622, the equivalent to 35 inshore lifeboat volunteers being provided with full personal protective equipment, ensuring their safety while saving lives at sea.

If you would like to join this dedicated and enthusiastic group of volunteers, please email the branch secretary, Susie Wills: [email protected]

Note to Editor

Current branches of the RNLI in Essex not directly connected to a station:

Brentwood & District Branch

Brightlingsea & District Branch

Canvey Island Branch

Chelmsford Branch

Dunmow Branch

Epping Branch

Loughton Branch

Maldon & District Branch

Rayleigh Branch

Thurrock Branch

Witham and District Branch

RNLI media contacts

For more information, please contact:

Richard Wigley, RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07903424698 or [email protected],

Catherine Chick, Brightlingsea RNLI branch volunteer Press Officer at: [email protected]

Clare Hopps, Regional Media Officer on 07824518641 or [email protected] or contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.

RNLI/Dave Riley

PPE worn by inshore lifeboat crews

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.