If it wasn’t for my late great friend Bob Booth, I would not have taken up sailing. Sailing was his life and it fast became mine. Bob was a keen supporter of the RNLI and when he passed away last year, he requested all donations to go to his beloved charity – he raised £1,472.62.
I wanted to know more about the RNLI, so I popped down to the Ramsgate lifeboat station. The RNLI costs a staggering £168M to run and is 95% funded by donations and legacies. I met up with Ian Cannon (Coxswain) and Ray Noble (Lifeboat Operations Manager), both having served over 25 years with the RNLI. The Ramsgate lifeboat station is crewed by 25 volunteers who are on call 24 hours and often risk their lives to save others.
Risking their lives in atrocious conditions
2016 was Ramsgate’s busiest year with 104 launches, one of the more recent hitting the news. On 14th January, at nearly midnight in a force 9 gale, the lifeboat with seven crew were called out to a 90m cargo vessel sinking 38 miles off Ramsgate. Whilst this was happening another call came in at 12:33am, reporting five people missing in the sea at Viking Bay, Broadstairs. As a lover of sailing myself, I find meeting these dedicated volunteers, who risk their own lives to save others, a humbling experience.
There are a number of ways we can all help the RNLI, from simply having a RNLI collection box on the bar, to helping fundraise or even train to become a volunteer! You’ll also be able to find out more about fundraising events in your area on the RNLI website.
In May the RNLI are running their annual ‘Mayday’ campaign where the public are encouraged to run or participate in fundraising activities throughout May. To find out more visit their website at www.rnli.org and enter ‘Mayday 2017’ in the search tool.
Paul Thomas, Managing Director