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Buckingham Palace garden party marks 200 years of saving lives at sea

Lifeboats News Release

Volunteers from Bangor RNLI attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace on Thursday in celebration of the charity’s 200th anniversary.

Bangor RNLI Volunteers Johnny Gedge, John Bell, Gavin Mitchell, Ewan Rathbone-Scott, Andrew Gedge

RNLI/Tom Bell

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.

The Duke of Kent has been President of the RNLI since 1969. Sir Tim Laurence is also a Vice President of the RNLI and former Deputy Chair.

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

Among those attending from across the charity were Kevin Baird, John Bell, Andrew Gedge, Johnny Gedge, Ewan Rathbone-Scott, Kyle Marshall and Gavin Mitchell from Bangor RNLI Station.

Speaking ahead of the garden party, 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, the charity has saved more than 146,277 lives – this equates to an average of two lives saved every day for 200 years.


Bangor RNLI Volunteers Kevin Baird, Johnny Gedge, John Bell, Gavin Mitchell, Ewan Rathbone-Scott, Andrew Gedge

RNLI/Tom Bell

Bangor RNLI Volunteer, John Bell

RNLI/Tom Bell

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.