The other crisp Sunday morning we had the great fortune to time our weekly promenade walk with the routine training exercise of the volunteer RNLI team in St. Annes. There are 237 lifeboat stations around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland and 346 operational lifeboats covering 19,000 miles of coastline. It was fascinating and inspiring to see these committed men converge in their own free time on a Sunday morning and in a disciplined manner prepare and launch such an impressive safety vessel.
I was surprised not more people were there to watch the lifeboat being lowered down onto the St. Annes sands and towed out towards the Ribble estuary. I guess in many ways it summed up nicely what the RNLI is all about though, focused on the cause and with little fuss. These men did not crave limelight or financial reward, it was obvious that they were doing something that they believed in and as Darren, one of the crew said to me: ‘the best thing about volunteering is being part of a team of people who don’t want to let anyone down.’
Without their volunteers the RNLI could not save lives at sea. These volunteers account for 4600 crew members, 3000 shore crew and station management, and 150 volunteer lifeguards. There are also tens of thousands of other volunteers that raise vital funds, awareness and give safety advice for the RNLI. In 2012, the RNLI made 8346 launches of which 3120 were in darkness.
This resulted in 7964 people being rescued at an average of 22 people per day. 328 lives were saved.
As I read more about the RNLI and in particular the St. Annes station and crew I noticed a phone number at the bottom of one of the information posters. Next to the number was a name and a notice to contact him if anyone was interested in volunteering for the station and crew. I took a photo of the notice on my phone for future reference and turned to my kids and said: ‘I know what my next Global Citizenship Award target is going to be…’