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The Great Escaper writer tells the extraordinary story of Bernie Jordan for RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

Out in cinemas today, The Great Escaper details the incredible tale of Bernie Jordan, the 89-year-old Second World War veteran and RNLI supporter. Bernie made headlines in 2014 when he made a dash from his retirement home in Hove to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day in France.

Film writer Billy Ivory stands in front of a large film background that says The Great Escaper.


Billi Ivory, script writer for The Great Escaper, at the film's premiere.

Starring Michael Caine and the late Glenda Jackson, the heart-warming film tells the true and uplifting tale of husband and wife, Bernie and Rene Jackson.

The film focuses on their elderly years and Bernie’s escapade to France to join the 70th anniversary event of D-Day. The couple’s touching relationship and when they first met during Second World is also explored during the film.

As RNLI supporters, Bernie and Rene Jordan bequeathed their entire estate to the lifesaving charity at the time of their passing.

For the 50th episode of the RNLI’s new 200 Voices podcast, BAFTA-nominee and script writer for The Great Escaper, Billy Ivory describes the extraordinary story of Bernie’s adventure and why the charity was so significant to the couple.

In the podcast episode, Billy says: ‘They felt as survivors, they had a duty to give back as much as they could. They both survived the war and I think in terms of what they bequeathed to the RNLI, it makes complete sense because Bernie was in the Navy, he was a leading seaman, and he was very proud of that.

‘Everything was bequeathed to the RNLI because they recognised the value and the service that was given by the institution, and they wanted to support that.’

The film was previewed in London and Brighton. On Thursday 28 September, Brighton and Selsey RNLI volunteers attended the Sussex screening of the film to collect donations and join in the celebration of the film’s release.

The Great Escaper is out in cinemas today, Friday 6 October.

The RNLI launched their new podcast, 200 Voices, to commemorate and celebrate two centuries of lifesaving. Listeners can tune in daily to hear from survivors, supporters, volunteers, lifeguards, celebrity ambassadors and historians.

Catch up on the episodes wherever you get your podcasts or visit You can find out more about the RNLI’s bicentenary here:

Notes to Editor:

  • Assets, including the film’s trailer, stills and social assets can be downloaded here.
  • For further information on The Great Escaper, please visit:
  • An audio trailer for 200 Voices can be downloaded here and a video trailer can be downloaded here.
  • Find out more about the RNLI’s bicentenary at

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.