RNLI volunteers and staff recognised in King’s Birthday Honours

Lifeboats News Release

Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) volunteers and have been recognised in His Majesty The King’s Birthday Honours for their roles in helping the charity save lives at sea.

Sue Green

Michael Buckland

Three RNLI volunteers with over 114 years of service between them – including a volunteer of 56 years who began as a lady launcher at just 20 years old, and a helm and launching authority from Weston-super-Mare – are among those who have been recognised by His Majesty The King for their incredible contribution to the charity.

RNLI Chief Executive, Mark Dowie said: ‘Volunteers are the heart of the RNLI and make up the vast majority of our people. These three volunteers epitomise our values of selflessness, courage, dependability and trustworthiness in everything they do.

‘It is incredible to think that one of them started with us when the RNLI was still manually launching Watson class lifeboats off Dungeness beach – few active volunteers have witnessed such significant changes in lifesaving.

‘It is also wonderful to see the vital work of the RNLI’s international team recognised for the first time in the Honours awards. Our founder, Sir William Hillary, foresaw an organisation that extended its views “from our own immediate coasts to the most remote quarters of the globe”. Today, our international vision is of a world in which no-one should drown.

‘My congratulations go to all four recipients and our thousands of other volunteers and staff who work tirelessly to deliver our essential lifesaving services.’

During her 56 years of service to the charity that saves lives at sea, Judith Richardson has held several roles at Dungeness Lifeboat Station. Starting as one of the charity’s last lady launchers – the team of women who helped to launch the lifeboat until 1977 – in 1967, then embracing fundraising and water safety education roles, she stepped down from her most recent role as volunteer lifeboat press officer last year but is still involved in the station.

A dedicated and enthusiastic lifeboat volunteer, Judith has been recognised for her efforts with a British Empire Medal (BEM). She said: ‘I was totally overwhelmed when I received the letter letting me know I was getting this honour.

‘I am so very proud of everything I’ve been involved with in the RNLI – I’ve enjoyed and loved all of it and I just hope along the way I’ve helped to save some lives. I haven’t got the energy that I used to but I’m just as committed as I ever was to this wonderful charity.’

Awarded an MBE in The King’s Birthday Honours is retired volunteer lifeboat helm Michael Buckland of RNLI Weston-super-Mare Lifeboat Station. Mike joined the RNLI in 1999 and launched on 181 shouts, spending nearly 1,200 hours at sea, saving 10 lives.

During a period between 2018 and 2022 as Lifeboat Operations Manager – the volunteer responsible for the management of the station – Mike was instrumental in maintaining the charity’s progress towards establishing a permanent lifeboat station in Weston-super-Mare after it moved from its former home on Birnbeck Island to a temporary base on the mainland, something Mike achieved with enthusiasm and positivity despite the multiple challenges.

Mike said: ‘The news is still sinking in, but I feel truly honoured to receive this award both for me and for Weston-super-Mare Lifeboat Station.

‘Everything I've ever done as part of volunteering for the RNLI has been a team effort. Thanks to everyone who has worked with me and supported me during my RNLI career, especially my family as without their unwavering support I could never have done what I have.’

Also in receipt of a BEM is President of RNLI Arbroath Fundraising Guild, Maureen Morrison. A stalwart of the guild for the past 34 years, she has seen the fundraising body raise £178,000 since she took over as president eight years ago.

Her ability to engage the community and creativity in organising events have ensured the guild’s fundraising success and her dedication to the RNLI in Arbroath is evident in her support of the station’s seafaring crew.

Maureen said: ‘I couldn’t believe it when I received the letter telling me I was going to be receiving this honour.

‘I’ve been involved with fundraising for the RNLI for over 40 years and I am honoured to be part of such an amazing fundraising team and proud of all we’ve done.’

Nominated by the international search and rescue community, the RNLI’s former International Director, James Vaughan, has been awarded an OBE for the impact his work has had on drowning prevention worldwide.

In 2011, under his leadership, the RNLI’s international department was born, commissioning a project to ascertain the scale of the problem and what the UK could do to help save lives globally. This led to the RNLI’s international team working with partners in low-resource countries to help in areas such as maritime search and rescue, establishing lifeguard services, water safety education, flood safety, community first aid and manufacturing low-cost rescue equipment.

This work in worldwide drowning prevention culminated in the first-ever UN Resolution on Drowning Prevention being adopted by 193 Member States in April 2021, acknowledging drowning as an important international issue for the very first time.

James said: ‘I was genuinely bowled over and humbled to receive news of this award which came completely out of the blue. From my time at the RNLI it is the work that has given me the most pride.

‘I would like to accept the honour on behalf of an amazing group of people that I have had the privilege to work alongside, both past and present at the RNLI and those at many partner organisations who have worked tirelessly, over many years, to put the issue of drowning firmly onto the global agenda as an issue that is fundamentally preventable.

‘The seemingly distant vision: nobody should drown anywhere in the world, comes ever closer. What a wonderful result that will be.’

The RNLI would also like to congratulate our Senior Independent Trustee, Denis Woulfe. Denis has been awarded an OBE for his services to business and equality. Denis was appointed as a Trustee of the RNLI in 2019 and is Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee.


Judith Richardson, centre, when she was a Lady Launcher at Dungeness

Judith Richardson

Judith Richardson


Judith Richardson, third from the left, receiving her framed letter of thanks for her time as a Lady Launcher

RNLI/Nathan Williams

James Vaughan

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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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.