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St Bees RNLI attended Buckingham Palace garden party

Lifeboats News Release

His Majesty The King granted permission for a garden party at Buckingham Palace in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

Ian, Alastair and Chris standing alongside a giant yellow wellie

RNLI/Colin Wadey

Ian, Alastair and Chris pose with a giant yellow wellie

The RNLI 200th Anniversary Garden Party was held by HRH The Princess Royal, accompanied by Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, and HRH The Duke of Kent on Thursday 23 May.

The Duke of Kent has been President of the RNLI since 1969 during which time volunteer lifeboat crews and beach lifeguards have saved more than 51,000 lives. Sir Tim Laurence is also a Vice President of the lifesaving charity and former Deputy Chair.

The garden party brought together around 2,500 of the RNLI’s long-serving volunteers, staff and their families and featured an Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat in the palace grounds.

Among those attending 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.

Alastair Graham, Ian Wrigley (40 years' service) and Chris Evans (20 years' service) travelled to Buckingham Palace to proudly represent St Bees RNLI. Ian and Alastair are currently volunteer Helms and Chris has had various roles at St Bees including Helm and Launch Vehicle Driver.

Chris Evans said: ‘It was a great honour and a surprise to get invited to Buckingham Palace, it was a lovely opportunity to meet with other volunteers from around the UK and Ireland, including our colleagues at Workington RNLI. A wonderful experience for Ian, Alastair and me’.

RNLI Chief Executive Mark Dowie said: ‘We are incredibly honoured that His Majesty The King has granted permission for the RNLI 200th Anniversary Garden Party to take place at Buckingham Palace in celebration of 200 years of saving lives at sea.

‘Our hosts, The Princess Royal, The Duke of Kent and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, have been hugely supportive of our charity over many decades and it will be a huge honour and privilege for many of our volunteers and staff to meet them.

‘Volunteers are the lifeblood of the RNLI and I am looking forward to being able to thank them personally, along with their equally dedicated families and our long-serving staff members, for their courage and commitment to saving lives.’

Head of Volunteering at the RNLI Donna McReath said: ‘I would like to thank each and every one of our incredible volunteers.

‘We couldn’t do what we do without their vital support and the time and effort they generously dedicate in a wide variety of roles, from lifesaving crew to fundraisers and those who volunteer in our shops, museums or by sharing our water safety messaging.

‘They are all lifesavers, and this special Garden Party is a wonderful opportunity to recognise and celebrate the joy and impact of volunteering for the RNLI. We are always looking for new volunteers to join our charity to help us continue saving lives at sea.’

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.

Ian, Alastair and Chris standing beside a Beefeater

RNLI/Colin Wadey

Being looked after by a Beefeater
Ian, Alastair and Chris in a team photo with some of the Workington lifeboat crew

RNLI/Colin Wadey

Team photo with some of the Workington crew

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.