Blackpool RNLI volunteer recognised in New Year’s Day honours list

Lifeboats News Release

A Blackpool volunteer who has been running the town’s RNLI shop for the past 23 years has been recognised in the Queen’s New Year’s Day honours list.

Dorothy Chanley, a Blackpool volunteer who has been running the town’s RNLI shop for the past 23 years has been recognised in the Queen’s New Year’s Day honours list.

RNLI/Blackpool

Blackpool RNLI volunteer recognised in New Year’s Day honours list

Dorothy Chanley’s smile has welcomed thousands of visitors to the RNLI shop since she joined the charity, and today that smile is even brighter as she’s awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in recognition of her lifesaving work across the North West coast.

Driven by a desire to support the Blackpool community, she joined the RNLI in 1998 following seven years in India where she was a teacher, studied yoga and later became a driver for a Royal family.

When Dorothy joined the RNLI, the new Blackpool lifeboat station had just been completed and she immediately took on the role of RNLI Shop Manager. Since then Dorothy is considered an expert in all things 'RNLI retail' across the North West - regularly supporting other shops in the region by training new shop managers and sharing the hints and tips she's gathered over her time.

Over the years, Blackpool RNLI Shop has gone from strength to strength under Dorothy’s careful guidance. She was also instrumental in creating an RNLI education centre on the town’s seafront. Blackpool RNLI’s education centre has enabled thousands of supporters - from schools, groups and families - to find out more about water safety and the charity’s lifesaving service.

As part of her role she also supports the education volunteers and co-ordinates the school, group and individual visits to the site, often standing in to give talks and present sessions if the team are short of volunteers. Always keen to improve public engagement, she is currently looking at how to develop the visitor centre, arranging a new rota to specifically allocate education volunteers to the site at busy times, and distributing materials within the community to better educate people and raise general awareness of the RNLI across the town.

Over the course of 23 years Dorothy has mentored, trained and managed over 100 volunteers, as well as personally volunteering over 4,000 days in the shop to help raise vital funds. Under Dorothy’s strong leadership, the Blackpool RNLI team have raised over £1million to help save lives at sea – an outstanding achievement. She has recently turned 88 but shows no signs of slowing down. The team at Blackpool say Dorothy has built a ‘culture of kindness and support throughout the operational crew, fundraising branch and shop at Blackpool.’

Dorothy said:

‘It has been a privilege and a pleasure to be a volunteer for the RNLI over the years. You meet so many wonderful people from all over the world and all over the British Isles. Most of them come in as friends because they have seen the rescues or have been rescued themselves.’

RNLI Chief Executive Mark Dowie said: ‘2021 has been another summer like no another for the RNLI, with more and more people flocking to the UK and Irish coastlines. Throughout the year, our frontline teams have maintained a 24/7 lifeboat rescue service, our lifeguards have delivered a seasonal service on 247 beaches, our water safety teams have helped keep the public safe, and our fundraising and engagement teams have made sure the vital donations keep coming in to fund these essential lifesaving services.

‘I am delighted to see some of our volunteers from across the whole RNLI recognised in the Queen’s New Year Honours list for their significant contribution to saving lives at sea this year. These five RNLI people embody the charity’s values of selflessness, courage, dependability and trustworthiness in everything they do, and it is particularly pleasing to see one of our longstanding lifeguards recognised in the 20th anniversary year of the RNLI lifeguard service.

‘On behalf of everyone at the RNLI, my congratulations to you all and my thanks to our thousands of other volunteers who go above and beyond for our lifesaving charity every day of the year.


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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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