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RNLI celebrates 200 years of saving lives at sea with Buckingham Palace garden p

Lifeboats News Release

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) celebrated its 200th anniversary in style with a special garden party at Buckingham Palace last month (23 May).

RNLI/Paul Archer-Jones

RNLI Rhyl Deputy Coxswain Paul Archer-Jones with partner Amanda at Buckingham Palace

Around 2,500 of the RNLI’s long-serving volunteers, staff and their families attended the RNLI 200th Anniversary Garden Party in the presence of HRH The Princess Royal, accompanied by Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, and RNLI President HRH The Duke of Kent.

Among those who attended from across the charity were lifeboat crew, lifeguards, water safety volunteers, fundraisers and recent recipients of meritorious service awards and The King’s Birthday and New Year Honours.

Representing RNLI Rhyl were Paul Archer-Jones, Deputy Coxswain, recipient of the 40 year Long Service Award, along with his partner Amanda Morris. Also in attendance was Reeve Turner, volunteer crew member receiving the 20 year Long Service, accompanied by his nephew Elliott Turner.

One of the highlights of the afternoon was a presentation by The Princess Royal of a Silver Medal for Gallantry to Penlee RNLI coxswain Patrick ‘Patch’ Harvey for his pivotal role in saving eight French sailors during a hurricane on 31 October 2022.

In complete darkness, with winds gusting up to 100mph and waves more than 20ft high, Patch and the volunteer crew of Penlee’s all-weather lifeboat Ivan Ellen battled the horrendous conditions pushing the yacht towards rocks for more than five hours, keeping the casualties safe until they could be safely evacuated by a HM Coastguard helicopter.

Patch said: ‘It has been an incredible honour to have been invited to the Garden Party at Buckingham Palace. The day has been really enjoyable, and it’s been a pleasure to attend with my fellow crew and our partners, who are in the background, supporting everything we do for the RNLI. Garden parties are not something we do every day!

‘To be presented with my silver medal, by HRH The Princess Royal, in the grounds of Buckingham Palace, with my wife Nina, and my crew beside me and in front of other volunteers and staff from the charity was amazing. It felt very special and means a huge amount.’

RNLI Chief Executive Mark Dowie said: ‘Patch’s courage, leadership and determination, and that of his entire crew that night, personified the dedication and commitment RNLI volunteers have displayed throughout our charity’s 200 years of lifesaving.

‘It was a privilege to witness HRH The Princess Royal present one of the RNLI’s highest honours to Patch in recognition of the lives Penlee lifeboat saved that day.

‘It was also an honour to meet so many of our long-serving volunteers, staff and their families and to thank them personally for their unwavering commitment. They are all lifesavers.

‘We thank our Patron, His Majesty The King, for granting permission for the RNLI 200th Anniversary Garden Party to take place at Buckingham Palace in celebration of 200 years of saving lives at sea, and The Duke of Kent who has been hugely supportive of our charity throughout the past 55 years as our President.’

Also present in an official capacity was Cleethorpes RNLI Launch Authority Andy Burden, one of 16 Yeoman of the King’s Body Guard on ceremonial duty.

Andy said: ‘After I retired from the RAF, where I had served for 22 years, I was selected to join what at the time was the Queen’s Body Guard, which is a ceremonial guard to the Monarch established in 1485. There are only 66 of us and our job is to ceremonially guard the King at formal events.

‘The RNLI Garden Party was my third duty as a Yeoman for the Kings Body Guard in 2024 and it was extra special for me as it brought together two organisations that I am incredibly proud to be a part of.’

Since the RNLI was founded on 4 March 1824, following an appeal to the nation from Sir William Hillary, the charity has saved more than 146,277 lives – this equates to an average of two lives saved every day for 200 years.

Today, the RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations around the UK and Ireland, including four on the River Thames, and has seasonal lifeguards on around 240 lifeguarded beaches around the UK.

RNLI/Reeve Turner

RNLI Rhyl volunteer Crew Member Reeve Turner with nephew Elliott Turner at Buckingham Palace

RNLI/Reeve Turner

RNLI Rhyl volunteer Crew Member Reeve Turner at Buckingham Palace

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.