RNLI celebrates 200 years of saving lives at sea

RYA celebrates and thanks the RNLI for their service
04 Mar 24

Ballycotton crew 1936. M.C. Walsh Mech. T Sliney, 2nd Cox, J.L.Walsh, J.S. Sliney. Cox Patrick Sliney, T D Walsh, W Sliney. and a dog.

Today (04 March 2024) the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) will mark its 200th anniversary, commemorating two centuries of service in saving lives at sea. Since its inception in 1824, the RNLI has rescued over 144,000 individuals, relying on the dedication of specially-trained volunteers and funding from voluntary donations.

A history of lifesaving efforts

From its beginnings with oar-powered vessels, to the deployment of cutting-edge technology today, the RNLI's journey is marked with triumphs, tragedies, and remarkable innovations. It introduced the first lifeboats on the River Thames, pioneered a UK beach lifeguard service, and delivered drowning prevention campaigns.

rnli celebrate 200 year anniversary

Bicentenary celebrations

Throughout its bicentenary year, the RNLI is hosting various events and activities across the UK and Ireland, including exhibitions, outdoor events, special thanksgiving services, partnerships, and educational programmes.

Continued commitment to lifesaving

Today, the RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations and provides seasonal lifeguards on over 240 beaches across the UK and Ireland. It designs and constructs its own lifeboats and conducts water safety programmes domestically and internationally. Despite technological advancements over two centuries, the core of the RNLI remains unchanged — the selfless dedication of volunteers and the unwavering support of generous donors.

rnli celebrate 200 year anniversary

Service of Thanksgiving

Sara Sutcliffe, RYA CEO, attended the RNLI’s Service of Thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey commemorating this significant milestone. Among the congregation were representatives from the RNLI lifesaving communities from across the UK and Ireland. 

Sara remarked: “Celebrating this milestone is inspirational and we offer our congratulations to our friends at the RNLI. Both the RNLI and the RYA are deeply committed to ingraining a culture of safety at sea within our training programmes and in practice across all levels of boating and associated watersports. On behalf of the RYA and our members we recognise and thank the amazing work done by the RNLI and its volunteers in saving lives at sea.”

For further information on how to look after yourself afloat visit the RYA Safety hub.

Find out more about the RNLI’s 200th anniversary or support their work.