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Celebrating 200 Years of Lifesaving: Torbay Hosts RNLI Anniversary Events

Lifeboats Media Invite

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is set to mark its 200-year journey from 1824 to 2024, with a series of celebratory events in Torbay over the year, starting with two on Sunday, March 3rd and Monday, March 4th.

Approaching the station's pontoon

RNLI/Niall Blatcher

Torbay RNLI's All-weather Lifeboat

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is set to mark its 200-year journey from 1824 to 2024, with a series of celebratory events in Torbay over the year, starting with two on Sunday, March 3rd and Monday, March 4th.

These two events will kick off a year of activities, organised by Torbay RNLI and led by our Coxswain Richard Fowler, to remember the RNLI's remarkable history, celebrate the continuing lifesaving services of today, and look forward to inspiring a new generation of lifesavers and supporters for the future.

Sunday, March 3rd: 'Blessing of the Fleet' Spectacle

On Sunday, an historic 'Blessing of the Fleet' will unfold featuring all RNLI lifeboats from the South Devon coast, from Exmouth to Salcombe. The lifeboats will gather in the Bay before embarking in convoy along the Breakwater to Torbay RNLI's berth where a special blessing ceremony will be conducted by the Fishermen’s Mission Area Officer for Devon, Helen Lovell-Smith,

Helen said, “With our long and very close association with RNLI, we are naturally delighted to be involved in these events and to play our part in helping celebrate this important landmark in the RNLI’s history.”

As a tribute from the fishing community, Brixham's trawler fleet and local vessels will accompany the lifeboats' parade with 200 seconds of horn-blasting, symbolizing the 200 years of the RNLI's service. The ceremony will be attended by local dignitaries, including church leaders from across the religious denominations, South Ham’s MP Anthony Mangnall, the Mayor of Torbay, regional Yacht Club Commodores, and surviving RNLI coxswains, who will lead this unique occasion.

Monday, March 4th: Church Service at All Saints Church, Brixham

The celebration continues Monday with a service at Brixham's iconic All Saints church at 6:45pm. Attended by current and retired RNLI Torbay volunteer crews, support staff, families, the Bishop James Grier of Plymouth and other local dignitaries, the service will commence with three minutes of Bay-wide bell ringing by churches across Brixham, Paignton and Torquay.

Local schools, choirs, and musicians are being invited to participate in the service, contributing musical performances, art displays, and dedicated readings. Following the service, attendees will have the opportunity to meet, question and chat to our RNLI coxswains and crew over refreshments.

It is an opportunity to celebrate with crew, past and present, and show the community’s appreciation for the many years of service our station has provided, going way back to the 1866 when the ‘good people of Exeter bought Torbay’s first lifeboat following the Great Storm of that year’.

Simon James of RNLI Torbay and organizer of these 200th-anniversary celebrations remarked, "Apart from reflecting on 200 years of service, it will also be a chance for our crew members, our station’s volunteers, and all our families, to come together with the local community in a really important celebration of a major milestone in our history.

“Our aim is to kick off these 200th year celebrations in memorable style. We want to fill the church and hold an historic service that will be remembered for generations. So, we are keen to spread the word and get this date etched into as many diaries across the local community as we can!”

The public is indeed warmly invited to attend both these events; to witness the 'Blessing of the Fleet' on Sunday 3rd March and join the service at All Saints Church on Monday evening; and share these moments of celebration, and to reflect with us on 200 years of service and achievement.

About RNLI Torbay:

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) Torbay is a vital part of the UK's lifesaving charity, funded entirely by public donations. Our dedicated volunteer crew members are committed to saving lives at sea in and around the Torbay area. We rely on the support of the community and generous sponsors to maintain our lifeboats, provide equipment, and ensure our crews are ready for any emergency at sea.

Note to editors:

For further information about this release or about RNLI Torbay, please contact Niall Blatcher, Lifeboat Press Officer, RNLI Torbay on 0773 4114 777

Attached are photos: (1) Torbay RNLI's All-weather Lifeboat, (2) Lifeboats from three South Devon RNLI stations, (3) All Saints Church, Brixham, (4) RNLI Torbay Crewmembers, (5) RNLI Torbay's ALB moored up on her pontoon, (6) RNLI's 200th anniversary logo

For more RNLI 200th Anniversary images, assets and information, please visit:

Lifeboats from three South Devon RNLI stations on an exercise

Chris Slack (Brixham professional photographer)

Lifeboats from three South Devon RNLI stations

RNLI/Niall Blatcher

All Saints Church, Brixham

RNLI/Niall Blatcher

Torbay RNLI Crewmembers
Severn Class, All-weather Lifeboat on her jetty in Brixham

RNLI/Niall Blatcher

Torbay RNLI's pontoon

RNLI/Niall Blatcher

RNLI's 200th Anniversary logo

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.