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Happisburgh RNLI volunteer attends Buckingham Palace garden party

Lifeboats News Release

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

Sally Smith

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 was Philip Smith, RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, water safety volunteer and Chair of the Station’s Management Group at Happisburgh RNLI.

Philip said: 'I was immensely honoured and proud to have attended the Garden Party yesterday with so many other RNLI volunteers to celebrate 200 years of the RNLI. To be selected to be presented to HRH The Princess Royal was an added privilege made more special by the fact that my father received his Gold Badge from her 24 years ago for his service to the charity.’

The RNLI has been an integral part of Philip’s life since the mid-1960s, when as a boy he would help his grandfather who was boat house attendant at Cromer’s N0 2 boat, clean and polish the brasses. His grandfather started collecting memorabilia about Henry Blogg, which went on to become the Henry Blogg Museum.

In 1972 Philip joined the lifeboat crew at Cromer and in 1982 he moved down the coast to Happisburgh lifeboat station to join the crew. He stood down from this role in 2003 as 45 was the retirement age.

Philip became volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer in 1984, a role he still holds today, and for which he received an RNLI gold badge in 2016.

He is also part of the station’s Water Safety Team and in 2009 he was asked to take on the role of Chair of the station’s Management Group.

Philip added: ‘Over the years as a volunteer with the charity that saves lives at sea, I have many fond memories. Attending the Buckingham Palace garden party will certainly rank amongst one of my proudest.’

RNLI Chief Executive Mark Dowie said: ‘It was 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.’

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 Picture caption

The photograph shows Philip Smith and his wife Sally outside Buckingham Palace. Credit: Sally Smith.

Notes to editors

RNLI media contacts

For more information, please contact Clare Hopps, RNLI Regional Communications Manager (North and East): [email protected]

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.

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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.