Harwich RNLI family celebrate as crew members marry in the face of adversity
Volunteer crew members Mike and Lizzie were surprised by their RNLI family at Harwich lifeboat station recently as they joined in to celebrate the couples wedding day.
On Friday 23 June, two of Harwich’s lifeboat crew got married at Colchester Castle and then came to Harwich Lifeboat station, walking through a tunnel of confetti and through oars, Mike Hender, relief mechanic and ALB/ILB crew and Lizzie Hender (nee Cutler) donned their iconic yellow RNLI wellies.
Lizzie, a dedicated front-line paramedic and volunteer crew member, was diagnosed with breast cancer in February. Since March, she has been undergoing chemotherapy treatment, leading her to temporarily step down from her service on the lifeboats and take a leave of absence from work. However, Lizzie's determination was unwavering, as she refused to let cancer hinder her plans to get married this year.
Despite the need to scale down their wedding to minimize the risk to Lizzie's health, the couple remained committed to including a meaningful tribute to the RNLI, a vital charity supported by volunteer crews. The RNLI holds a significant place in their lives, embodying shared values and an unwavering dedication to saving lives at sea. They wished to capture the essence of their connection by taking a few photographs at the Boathouse on their special day. Upon contacting the Lifeboat Operations Manager (LOM) and Coxswain, they expected to find an empty Boathouse upon their arrival after the wedding ceremony.
To their absolute delight, the couple discovered an extraordinary surprise awaiting them at the Boathouse. The entire volunteer crew, who selflessly offer their time and skills to support the RNLI's mission, had gone above and beyond to express their unwavering support and celebrate the couple's joyous occasion.
‘We were delighted to find that our RNLI family were also determined to celebrate with us. They had not only dressed the ALB and obtained ceremonial oars for photos, but had also set up a small reception for us in the ILB Hall, complete with wedding cake!’ said Mike
The effort and dedication displayed by the RNLI volunteers were truly remarkable. It was evident that these individuals had invested considerable time and energy to ensure the couple's wedding day became an even more unforgettable and heart-warming experience.
Deputy Launch Authority (DLA) Dave Thurston toasted the happy couple ‘It is lovely to see a couple on the crew and to see them married is extra special. I’d like to pass on congratulations from everybody at the station, and wish them a long and happy marriage’
The couple expressed their immense gratitude to the supportive RNLI volunteer crew, who not only made them feel cherished and loved but also demonstrated the profound bonds formed within the RNLI community. The wedding day served as a testament to the compassion, unity, and unwavering spirit that epitomize the RNLI, a charity relying on the generosity of others to save lives at sea. The couple will forever treasure the memories of their special day, knowing that their journey into marriage was embraced and celebrated by their RNLI family.
Notes to Editor
The RNLI is the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
Harwich RNLI is based on The Quay, Harwich. The lifeboat station was founded in 1829 and the volunteer crew use an all-weather Severn class lifeboat The Duke of Kent and B class lifeboat Tierney, Harvey and Sonny Reid.
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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 over 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 142,200 lives.
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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