RNLI 200


On Monday 4 March 2024, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) – the charity that saves lives at sea – will celebrate its 200th birthday.

The RNLI has been saving lives at sea since it was founded in 1824 and, in that time, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 144,000 lives. Funded by voluntary donations, and with lifeboats crewed by specially-trained volunteers, the RNLI is a truly unique rescue organisation.

From triumphs to tragedies; from oar-powered vessels to the boats packed with cutting-edge technology used today; from introducing the first lifeboats on the River Thames to rolling-out a UK beach lifeguard service; from running the UK’s biggest ever drowning prevention campaigns to working with others to save lives overseas – the RNLI has a remarkable 200-year story to tell.

Throughout its bicentenary year, the charity will be running events and activities to remember its important history and celebrate the modern lifesaving service it is today, while hoping to inspire generations of future lifesavers and supporters.

Exhibitions, outdoor events, special services of thanksgiving, partnerships and education programmes are just some of the activities which will be taking place across the UK and Ireland. There will also be a special 200th anniversary retail range available through the RNLI’s shops and online.

Today, the charity is saving more lives, in more ways, in more places than ever before. It operates 238 lifeboat stations and has seasonal lifeguards on over 240 lifeguarded beaches around the UK and Ireland. It designs and builds its own lifeboats, and it runs domestic and international water safety programmes.

But, while innovations and developments in technology over the course of 200 years have inevitably changed how the charity saves lives, some things have remained the same. The volunteering ethos at the heart of the RNLI is what makes the charity so special – volunteers have given their time and commitment over the past two centuries, as they continue to do today. And generous donations have continued to power the RNLI’s lifesaving work – everything the RNLI has achieved since 1824 has been made possible thanks to their generosity.

RNLI Chief Executive, Mark Dowie, says:

‘It has been an honour and a privilege to be at the helm of the RNLI for approaching five years, and to see the charity reach its bicentenary. For a charity to have survived 200 years based on the time and commitment of volunteers, and the sheer generosity of the public donating to fund it, is truly remarkable. It is through the courage and dedication of its incredible people that the RNLI hassurvived the test of time, including tragic losses, funding challenges, two World Wars and, more recently, a global pandemic.

‘In 2024, we mark the bicentenary of the RNLI. We remember the achievements and commitment of all those who have been part of the RNLI family over the past two centuries; we celebrate the world-class lifesaving service we provide today, based on our 200 years of learning, expertise and innovation, and we hope to inspire future generations of lifesavers and supporters who will take the RNLI into its next century and beyond.

‘I am immensely grateful to everyone who is involved with the charity – our volunteers, supporters and staff. This is our watch and it is our role to keep our charity safe and secure so it can continue to save lives into the future, as we strive in our vision to save every one.’

For more information on the RNLI’s 200th anniversary, or to donate, visit RNLI.org/200.

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