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Whitby RNLI to mark charity’s 200th anniversary with special collaboration

Lifeboats News Release

Whitby RNLI is going to be at the heart of a special collaboration to mark the charity’s 200th anniversary in 2024.

RNLI/Ceri Oakes

Whitby-based Dogwood Productions is one of just two theatre companies nationally who will partner with the RNLI to celebrate the occasion and they plan a new musical that will include stories of the town’s lifeboats over the years.

The anniversary date is 4 March, so this announcement comes as the RNLI approaches its 199th anniversary, a number very familiar in Whitby with its iconic flight of 199 steps up to the Abbey.

The plan is that the production will be premiered in the town, before touring the north of England. The project, called Facing The Waves has started with new recordings of local people talking about living in a maritime town, undertaken by BBC Radio Tees. These will help shape the final show and have been supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Many of the interviews will be heard on BBC Radio Tees in the coming weeks and they will all be kept as part of Whitby Town Museum’s audio archive, so that future generations will be able to conjure up a picture of Whitby as it is now.

Dogwood Director, Antony Bellekom, said: ‘The lifeboat in Whitby is at the heart of the town and we know the community are proud of and grateful for the service it has given over so many years.

‘The lifeboat is about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. The anniversary marks two centuries worth of tales of bravery, sacrifice and triumph. In that sense, it’s a gift for people creating theatre, with an amazing richness of stories. But it’s not all about the past: just as the seas off our coast will always have the potential to take lives, the tradition of volunteering goes on and that is something we will certainly want to reflect.'

RNLI Picture caption

The photo shows from left to right: Barry Brown, Whitby RNLI Operations Manager; RNLI crew members, Andy Brighton and Ally Brisby, Dogwood’s Antony Bellekom and Rachel Teate from BBC Radio Tees. Credit RNLI/Ceri Oakes.

Notes to editors

Dogwood Productions is a professional theatre company based in the town and as a Community Interest Company, operates on a not-for-profit basis.

For more information, please contact: Antony Bellekom​[email protected]​ or: 0772 0882 530

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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