The difference you make

Thanks to the support of brilliant people like you, our lifeboat crews and lifeguards saved 558 lives in 2016.

The seas, beaches and waterways watched over by our lifesavers are enjoyed by millions of people every year. But the water remains an unpredictable environment that can catch people out. People will always need our help and – thanks to you – we will always be there to answer that call. Our lifeboat crews saved 431 lives in 2016, and our lifeguards saved 127. That’s 558 people who wouldn’t be here today without their help, as well as countless friends and family who would never have been the same again. A heartfelt thank you.

8,851 lifeboat launches

In 2016, volunteers launched 8,851 times around the coast of the UK and Ireland, rescuing an average of 23 people a day. Our inland crews at Chiswick and Tower lifeboat stations made 847 launches – almost 10% of the RNLI’s total. 2016 was the busiest year for lifeboat launches since 2011, with launches to people in water rising by 25% from 2015. It is clear that our volunteer lifesavers are still needed to help keep our coastline safe.

David MacLellan, Coxswain at Islay lifeboat, received the RNLI’s Bronze Medal for Gallantry for his display of great skill and seamanship during an extremely arduous rescue. Facing treacherous seas and force 11 winds, David and his four crew members took part in a rescue operation that lasted 18 hours.  Through 4-6m waves and heavy sleet showers, the Islay lifeboat crew worked with two Coastguard helicopters and a pipelay vessel to save the life of a yachtsman in real danger.

I might have been the one making the decisions and helming the boat, but this was undoubtedly a fantastic team effort with the crew on the deck doing the hard work.
David MacLellan
Coxswain, Islay lifeboat

As our frontline rescue service continued to keep thousands safe, we also looked at how to support and sustain this lifesaving work long into the future.

Being an RNLI lifesaver takes huge personal commitment and sacrifice from our volunteers and you help to keep them safe by equipping them with everything they need for the demands they face.

Our plans for a 25-knot all-weather lifeboat fleet saw Shannon class lifeboats put on service at Swanage, Fleetwood, Scarborough, Amble and within the RNLI relief fleet. The modernisation of our inshore fleet continued with 21 new inshore lifeboats going on service in 2016.

Davd MacLellan Coxswain Islay lifeboat station

RNLI/Nigel Millard

David MacLellan, Coxswain at Islay Lifeboat Station who was awarded a Bronze Medal for Gallantry in 2016

Helping over 20,000 beachgoers

Our lifeguards aided 20,538 people and saved 127 lives in summer 2016. The number of incidents attended by our lifeguards increased by 12% from 2015. With a number of high profile incidents taking place across the summer, it is clear that people need to take more care and must always Respect the Water when heading to the beach.

During the difficult summer around our coasts, RNLI Lifeguards Alex Bryant and Jacob McGoldrick were called into action. A family of seven on an overloaded and underpowered vessel were in real trouble after their boat capsized close to Littlehampton Beach. Using their inshore rescue boat, they managed to rescue six of the family, before Littlehampton RNLI crew members arrived to help rescue the other.

In Bournemouth, a swimmer found himself in real trouble when caught out by the tide close to Boscombe Pier. Senior Lifeguard Dominic Richard acted quickly onboard his rescue watercraft to rescue the panicked man, bravely manoeuvring beneath the pier to reach him.

Thanks to the training and equipment you’ve helped to provide, lifeguards are ready to jump into action on over 240 beaches throughout the summer. Our aim is to have 260 patrols in place by 2019.

RNLI lifeguard rescuing a child in the surf at Constantine Bay, Cornwall.

Photo: Nigel Millard

RNLI lifeguard rescuing a child in the surf at Constantine Bay, Cornwall

Flood rescue

2016 was a quiet year for our Flood Rescue Team, but you don't have to go back far to see just how important this service is. December 2015 was the wettest month since records began and many people faced misery and destruction in the wake of unrelenting storms and floods.

Flood rescue volunteers deployed 13 times across the UK in 2015, working with other search and rescue organisations to help 411 people in flooded homes, vehicles and workplaces.

In January, volunteers helped Scottish Hydro restore power to the village of Ballater, Aberdeenshire, by firing a cable-carrying rocket line 60m across the River Dee.

In times of flooding, 100 volunteers are on standby to help people anywhere in the UK and Ireland within 6 hours. Your support keeps them warm, dry, trained and equipped to do that as safely as possible in demanding conditions.

RNLI Flood Rescue Team volunteers helping people caught up in the Cumbria floods following storm Desmond

Photo: Mark Barker

RNLI Flood Rescue Team volunteers helping people caught up in the Cumbria floods following storm Desmond

Drowning prevention

British and Irish waters are dangerously unpredictable, with around 190 people still dying in accidents on or near the sea every year. In 2016, we went further than ever to change this story.

Our long term vision is to halve the number of accidental coastal deaths in the UK and Ireland by 2024. Several campaigns have been expanding over the last year as we work towards that goal.

Respect the Water reached 45M people and saw a significant increase in awareness of water safety issues from the previous year, including amongst the most at risk group - men aged 16-39.

Swim Safe expanded to three additional locations, giving 7,059 children free practical training to boost their confidence in open water.

We don’t always get stories where the impact of prevention work is so clear – we’ll never know how many lives have been saved by the schemes you’ve funded.

But with over 682,453 young people reached with interactive water safety talks by our education volunteers and lifeguards, and 231 community lifesaving plans now in place, we know we have had an impact for life.

RNLI ASA Swim Safe programme taking place at Lake Windermere in the Lake District

Photo: Naik Media

RNLI Swim Safe programme at Lake Windermere in the Lake District

We couldn't do any of this without you

This was lifesaving powered by you.

Your support today will help train and equip our lifesavers so that they're ready for anything.

If you’d like to find out a bit more about the numbers, head to our annual report and accounts pages.

Lifesaving statistics in 2016

682,453 young people reached with water safety talks

558 lives saved by our lifeboat crews and lifeguards

20,538 beachgoers helped by lifeguards