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Saving Lives at Sea returns to the screen – with broadcaster Dermot O’Leary

Lifeboats News Release

As the RNLI turns 200 Cromer RNLI makes its debut on Saving Lives at Sea.


Dermot O'Leary

As the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) marks 200 years of lifesaving, the charity’s lifeboat crews are set to return to the nation’s television screens on Tuesday 12 March in a special episode of popular TV show Saving Lives at Sea on BBC Two and iPlayer. The episode, commissioned to mark the charity’s 200th anniversary and guest presented by long-time RNLI supporter Dermot O’Leary, will take a closer look at RNLI crews’ involvement in the Second World War.

Viewers will be immersed in this decisive period of history, with Dermot visiting lifeboat stations around the coast uncovering the stories of the pivotal role that the RNLI and its crews played in some of the most important events of the time.

One of those stations was Cromer where Dermot found out more about Henry Blogg. One of the greatest figures in RNLI history, Henry Blogg was a volunteer at Cromer lifeboat station who, alongside his crew, saved 873 lives. During his 53 years at the station, Henry was awarded three Gold Medals and four Silver Medals for Gallantry, as well as the British Empire Medal and the George Cross for his lifesaving during the Second World War.

During his visit to Cromer, Dermot visited the Henry Blogg Museum and had a close-up look at H F Bailey lifeboat which saw 10 years service at Cromer including during World War Two.

Jacqui Palmer, RNLI Heritage Development Manager said: We have the privilege of looking after this beautiful and historic old lifeboat. During World War Two, the lifeboat launched 150 times has saved 448 lives - more than any other lifeboat. Dermot met a survivor’s granddaughter and gets to the heart of why this boat matters. This little boat and selfless crew returned loved ones home to their families. At a time when millions of people were killed by war - the lifeboat brought hope.’

Dermot also went afloat on Cromer's all weather lifeboat Lester. Paul Watling, Cromer RNLI Coxswain/mechanic said: ‘It was great to meet Dermot and take him out on our lifeboat. He is clearly passionate about what the RNLI do and it was great to show him around the station and the boat. He was the nicest person you would ever want to meet and he put all the crew and station volunteers at ease during his visit and took the time to chat to us all.'

Dermot said: ‘As an ambassador for the RNLI and a huge history fan, it was a privilege for me to uncover some of the untold stories that saw ordinary volunteers get involved in some of the most extraordinary events of the Second World War. The brave men and women we heard about left a real impression on me, as did the present-day volunteers I was able to meet along the way, who are still saving lives at sea today.’

Mark Dowie, RNLI Chief Executive, said: ‘As the RNLI marks 200 years of lifesaving, we look forward to seeing this very special episode of Saving Lives at Sea sharing some of our incredible stories from the Second World War. As viewers will see, our lifeboat crews played a remarkable role during the war, with stories of great tragedy and also immense bravery featured in the episode.

‘Over the course of the Second World War, the RNLI saved 6,376 lives. Our lifeboat crews towed vessels loaded with explosives, navigated minefields and rescued downed aircrew from both sides during the Battle of Britain.

‘And today, our selfless volunteers continue to go to the aid of those in peril at sea whoever they are and wherever they are from, just like our lifeboat crews have been doing for 200 years.’

Other stations featured in the episode include Aldeburgh, Margate, St Peter Port, and Penlee. Saving Lives at Sea airs at 9pm on Tuesday 12 March on BBC Two and iPlayer.

Notes to Editors

  • The series is made for the BBC by Blast! Films.

RNLI Media contacts

For more information please contact Clare Stagg, RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer: [email protected]

Key facts about Cromer RNLI

The Cromer Lifeboat Station was established in 1804 and was not taken over by the Institution from the Norfolk Shipwreck Association until 1857. Since 1923 there have been two lifeboats at Cromer, and currently there is a D Class inshore boat and Tamar all-weather lifeboat. The outstanding figure in the history of Cromer is Henry George Blogg who became a member of the Cromer crew in 1894 at the age of 18. He was coxswain from 1909-1947. During his 53 years as a lifeboat crew member, the Cromer lifeboats had been on service 387 times and rescued 873 lives. His record is without equal in the history of the Institution. No lifeboat crew member has received so many decorations for gallantry.

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.