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Concert will mark RNLI 200th anniversary at Wakefield Cathedral

Lifeboats News Release

Two hundred years of lifesaving and bravery by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) will be marked during an evening of music and story-telling at a concert at Wakefield Cathedral.

Community gathered with choir in an ambient lit Cathedral.


Community gather at Wakefield Cathedral

The RNLI has been saving lives at sea since it was founded in 1924. In that time its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 144,000 lives. Funded by voluntary donations and with lifeboats crewed by specially trained volunteers, the RNLI is a truly unique rescue operation.

Tickets are now on sale for the concert at 7pm on 17th May 2024 which proudly brings together singers from three choirs including Wakefield Cathedral Choir, Ensemble Pro Victoria and young musicians from Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, part of Wakefield Grammar School Foundation.

It is curated by concert producer and lecturer in music management at University of Leeds Silviu Cobeanu. He has expertly created a seascape made up of old and new maritime and choral music complemented with stories depicting selflessness and heroism on treacherous seas.

Silviu said: ‘Through song, music and performance, this concert aims to remember the RNLI’s remarkable history, celebrate the modern lifesaving service that keeps our coast and rivers safe today, and inspire a new generation of lifesavers and supporters.’

The programme includes interludes from RNLI lifeboat crew members including Jamie White, a descendant of the family of Northumberland’s sea rescue heroine Grace Darling.

Musical highlights will include Director of Music at Wakefield Cathedral James Bowstead conducting Wakefield Cathedral Choir’s performance of two songs composed by arrangers from ChoirCommunity, a marketplace of high quality and cost-effective songs and musical arrangements for choirs. These compositions have been donated to the RNLI as part of the Sing to Save Lives initiative and are free for other choirs to use in fundraising concerts.

The audience will also be treated to a unique and rousing medley of arrangements from an RNLI repository of songs, collected from old editions of 19th century editions of the Lifeboat Magazine by Ensemble Pro Victoria, led by director Toby Ward.

The event has been organised by the RNLI’s West Yorkshire Business Branch.

Volunteer branch member and RNLI Vice President Clive Rand said: ‘The concert is called ‘200 years and Counting,’ and as the RNLI enters its 200th year, we as a branch are counting on your support. We are calling on you to join us, to carry our lifesaving service into the future and help us achieve our mission to save every one.’

RNLI 200 years and counting: An evening of great music and stories to celebrate the bicentenary of the charity you love is on 17th May 2024 at 7pm in The Nave, Wakefield Cathedral, Northgate, Wakefield, WF1 1HG.

Tickets cost £25 and are available from

Proceeds will help to fund future lifesaving and innovative world class inventions to help the charity achieve its mission and save every one from drowning into the next 200 years.


Notes to Editors:

RNLI at 200:

  • On 4th March 2024 the RNLI celebrates 200 years of saving lives at sea. Throughout its 200th year the charity is running events and activities to commemorate its history, celebrate the lifesaving service it provides today and inspire generations of future lifesavers and supporters. For more information visit


Wakefield Cathedral:

Wakefield Cathedral in the Anglican Diocese of Leeds is built on the site of a Saxon church mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book. In 1090, William II gave the church and land in Wakefield to Lewes Priory in Sussex and shortly after that a Norman church was built.

With over 900 years of history on the site where the cathedral is situated today, Wakefield Cathedral is truly one of Yorkshire’s finest stories of longevity and triumph over adversity.


West Yorkshire RNLI Business Branch:

-The branch consists of business people, friends and supporters of the RNLI who work together to raise money and awareness of the charity’s lifesaving work through fundraising events and collections.

-In 2024 the branch marks its 25th anniversary and welcomes new members. Visit: for details.


Silviu Cobeanu:

Silviu Cobeanu is Director of Postgraduate Studies and Lecturer in Music Management in the School of Music at the University of Leeds. He has worked for many years as a concert promoter, as well as an arts marketing consultant. As a classical music promoter, he produced successful concerts with world-famous ensembles and artists including the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, the King’s Singers, The Tallis Scholars, and The Sixteen. As a very keen curator of landmark events he promoted the first ever concert in Sheffield of the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge in 2016. He has also focused on arts advocacy and arts audience development projects, assisting various Leeds-based organisations (Leeds Lieder, JazzLeeds and Leeds International Piano Competition, etc.) as an academic consultant on marketing and branding.

Outside of academia he is an enthusiastic boater and loves everything maritime.

Wakefield Cathedral Choir:

The Cathedral Choir consists of both boys and girls (school years 4-9) that provide two separate groups both singing the top line.

They sing separately most of the time, giving each group their own musical and social identity but sometimes merge for larger services such as Christmas and Easter.

Ensemble Pro Victoria:

Described as ‘a force for original thinking, daringly and triumphantly realised’ (Choir and Organ), Gramophone-nominated Ensemble Pro Victoria is established as one of the Britain’s finest young early music ensembles (Early Music Review).

Founded at the University of Cambridge University in 2015, the ensemble put down roots in the rich tradition of combined research and historical performance, which remains at the heart of their approach.

Wakefield Grammar School Foundation

Wakefield Grammar School Foundation is one of the country’s leading families of independent day schools. Girls and boys join from age 3 at Wakefield Grammar Pre-Preparatory School and then from age 7 in the girls’ school, Wakefield Girls’ High School, or boys’ school, Queen Elizabeth Grammar School (QEGS). The Music Departments work together in all aspects of school life, from the majority of the extensive musical co-curriculum, to joint A Level classes in the sixth form. There are around 20 ensembles and choirs rehearsing weekly, run by teaching staff and a team of Visiting Instrumental Musicians. The groups featured today involve senior musicians from both schools. Both feature heavily in the musical calendar of the Foundation, and are well-versed in representing the school at internal and public events of various shapes and sizes.

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.