MAYDAY! RNLI in Scotland record a busy 2021 as the charity calls for your help

Lifeboats News Release

The RNLI has today released its rescue figures for 2021, which show a total of 408 lives saved by the charity’s lifeboat crews and lifeguards last year – more than one life saved every single day, and a 17% increase in the number of lives saved on the previous year.

Forth Air

Rescue numbers are up for the RNLI in Scotland as the charity urges supporters to answer their Mayday call.

In Scotland, volunteer lifeboat crews at 46 lifeboat stations spent 1,117 more hours at sea on rescue missions, rescuing 169 more people than in 2020.

The charity is now putting out its own Mayday call as it faces yet another busy summer. With high numbers of visitors expected as people continue to choose to holiday closer to home, more funds are needed to ensure the lifesaving service is able to keep everyone safe.

Scottish lifeboat crews saw an increase to incidents involving paddleboarders, swimmers and sailing vessels in 2021, and that trend set to continue in 2022 with leisure activities on the water a popular pastime for many keen to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Kinghorn Lifeboat Station in Fife recorded a bumper year of rescues with the station – crewed entirely by volunteers – launching 73 times in 2021. A standout call for the crew was back in October 2021 when the team saved the life of a swimmer who got into difficulty off the coast of Kirkcaldy.

Reflecting on a busy year, Kinghorn volunteer crew member, Neil Chalmers, is gearing up for more of the same in 2022 and knows how crucial fundraising in May is for the charity’s lifesaving service. Neil said: ‘Summer is our busiest time of year, with thousands of people at risk of getting into danger by the water. Ordinary people just enjoying days out with family or friends.

‘Mayday is our own call for help, as we rely on the generosity of the public to take part in events like the Mayday Mile and raise the funds that allow us to be there when we’re needed most. But we need to be ready. Training, kit, stations, fuel … these are just some of the things we need to save lives, and that your fundraising can help provide.’

The RNLI’s Mayday national fundraiser begins on Sunday 1 May and will run for the whole month across the UK and Ireland.

Claire MacDonald, RNLI Fundraising and Partnerships Lead for Scotland, added: ‘It’s clear from these new figures that demand for our services is continuing to rise, with our lifesavers dropping everything to run to the lifeboat station when the call comes. Every penny raised during Mayday will go towards ensuring we are ready to save even more lives this year.’

To sign up for the Mayday Mile, or to make a donation in support of the RNLI’s lifesavers, visit

Notes to editors

· Lifeboats in Scotland launched 1176 times in 2021 – 10% increase on 2020.

· 987 people were aided by the RNLI in Scotland – 21% increase on 2020.

· Crews spent 9,245 hours on rescue calls – 14% increase on 2020.

· Interviews are available on request across Scotland. Please contact Martin Macnamara ([email protected] / 07920365929) to arrange.

· Claire MacDonald is available for interview in Edinburgh or remotely via Teams.

· A video of Kinghorn’s rescue of the swimmer can be downloaded here. Credit Kinghorn RNLI

· The RNLI have 46 lifeboat stations around mainland Scotland, and on the isles of Arran, Mull, Islay, Barra, Harris, Lewis, Orkney and Shetland.

· The RNLI provides a seasonal lifeguard service on eight beaches in Scotland

Mayday 2022


The RNLI Scotland are gearing up for a busy 2022 and need your support this May.

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.