July 2, 2021 5.33 pm This story is over 12 months old

Life-saving charity RNLI needs your help after donations dry up during pandemic

Saving lives in Lincolnshire and across the UK

Each month in 2021, The Lincolnite and publishers Stonebow Media will offer our support to a local charity, with free advertising and promotion across our website and social media channels, to help them raise funds and awareness.

This month is the turn of RNLI, a charity that has saved over 143,000 lives for nearly 200 years through its volunteer crews and lifeguards. It is powered primarily by kind donations, and was founded as the Royal National Institution for the Preservation of Lives and Property from Shipwreck in 1824.

Thirty years later in 1854, it changed its name to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution – the RNLI – as it is known today – see more details of how to support the charity here.

Like many other charities, the coronavirus pandemic caused an unprecedented level of disruption to the RNLI, who had to temporarily suspend or postpone many of its planned fundraising activities such as the usual lifeboat open days. However, that didn’t stop the RNLI saving 349 people nationally over the course of 2020.

Last year, the charity said it cost £139.2 million to run its life saving service.

On average it costs £380,000 a year to run the lifesaving service in Lincolnshire alone. Some 92% of the charity’s total income comes from donations, with the remaining 8% from sources such as trading and investments.

In Greater Lincolnshire, the RNLI has three lifeboat stations in Cleethorpes, Mablethorpe and Skegness, as well as the lifeguard service. The oldest of the stations in the county is in Skegness, which started in 1839. Overall, the RNLI has a total of 238 stations across the UK and Ireland.

Nikki Wrench, Community Manager (East Midlands & Lincolnshire), said: “The RNLI relies on donations in order to continue our lifesaving work and the COVID pandemic and the move to a cashless society has caused a reduction in donations over the last 18 months.

“On average it costs £380,000 to run our lifesaving service in Lincolnshire – our volunteer crews and lifeguards risk their lives 365 days a year in order to save others, a donation from you makes you a lifesaver too!

“You can still donate to us online at www.rnli.org.uk or ‘tap to donate’ at one of our new contactless donation points found at many of our lifeguard units, RNLI stations and shops or when you see an RNLI collection box using that to make a cash donation – we have been saving lives for 197 years, with your donations we can continue saving lives for many years to come”


The volunteer crew of Cleethorpes Lifeboat were tasked in August 2020 to reports of several people trapped on the ‘Whaleback’ sandbank near Humberston. | Photo: RNLI/Matt McNally

The first lifeboat in Cleethorpes arrived in 1868. Since then a lifeboat has been based in Cleethorpes, Grimsby or Humberston. The current station opened in Cleethorpes in 1987 and has been home to an RNLI D Class lifeboat ever since.

Two of the past boats were funded by viewers of the TV programme Blue Peter. The current lifeboat, James Burgess II, was placed on service in 2012.

A team of 20 volunteers respond to between 50 and 60 call outs a year, ranging from people cut off by the tide on sandbanks to broken down vessels in the river. As of June 25 this year, the lifeboat had launched 22 times.

The Cleethorpes lifeboat station. | Photo: RNLI

Work has also begun on a new £3 million lifeboat station in Cleethorpes, which will be fully funded by donations and is scheduled to open in 2023.


A volunteer lifeboat team from Skegness. | Photo: RNLI

Skegness has had a lifeboat since 1839, at the time belonging to the then Lincolnshire Coast Shipwreck Association. It was taken on by the RNLI in 1864 and there have been lifeboats from the charity operating off the town’s beaches ever since.

Since 1864 RNLI Skegness has operated nine all weather lifeboats. Since their introduction in the 1960s there have been a total of 10 inshore lifeboats.

Typically, 50 or 60 call outs per year are undertaken by a team of around 35 volunteers. 21 of these are sea going crew and the remainder are the vitally important shore crew and other station volunteers.

Skegness lifeboat station. | Photo: RNLI

The current station, which opened in 1990 is now on the southwest corner of the town’s Central Beach area.


Mablethorpe RNLI in action. | Photo: RNLI

There has been a lifeboat station in Mablethorpe since 1965, having one inshore lifeboat – the D Class Stanley Whiteley Chadwick.

The current station was built in 2001, when another inshore lifeboat – the Atlantic 85 Jacqueline Saville – arrived on service.

Since 1965, Mablethorpe’s lifeboats have launched around 1200 times, with 500 lives being saved during that period. In 2020, the lifeboats launched 32 times and eight lives were saved, while so far in 2021 (up to June 25) there have been 10 launches and one life saved.

D class inshore lifeboat William Hadley D-653, with three crew on board, and Mablethorpe lifeboat station in the background. | Photo: RNLI

The Mablethorpe station currently has 20 volunteers and the longest serving has been on service in the town for 41 years.

Lifeguard service

The lifeguard service is run by the the life-saving charity. | Photo: RNLI

The lifeguard service is run by the RNLI as part of the charity’s efforts to save lives at sea. It predominately deals with the prevention aspect of beach/sea safety and aiming and stopping incidents from occurring.

This year is the 13th season the service has been running under the RNLI. It operates in four Greater Lincolnshire beaches – Sutton-on-Sea, Ingoldmells, Skegness and Mablethorpe.

Lifeguards helping to rescue a young male. | Photo: RNLI

Arun Gray, Lifeguard Supervisor for Lincolnshire, said: “I’ve been here since the start and have seen a range of changes implemented over the years. We are now in a very good position with strong systems of training and equipment allowing our lifeguards to keep beaches safe in the most efficient way possible.

“I have a strong team this year and it is comforting to know the beach visitors in Skegness, Ingoldmells, Sutton-on-Sea and Mablethorpe are being kept safe between their patrol hours of 10am-6pm every day until September 5.”

The service works with other agencies including the coastguard, air ambulance and local police officers.

Donate to the charity here