RNLI Lifeboat station volunteer crews from Rye Harbour, Littlestone-on-Sea and Dungeness met up on Saturday March 3 for an evening of fun and fund-raising.
Hosted by Rye Harbour station, they were reviving a local tradition of gathering in turn on each other’s home turf to enjoy a meal together, yes, but more than that, to raise money for local charities and to build and strengthen bonds between them which might prove crucial when the crews are working at together saving lives at sea.
Rye Harbour crew member Joseph Brown, master-mind of the event and chef for the evening, explained: “It was a good evening for the RNLI to give something back to the community that gives so much to us “.
This year, £355 was raised to support the Oliver Curd Trust, a charity celebrating its 10th anniversary this year which provides holiday accommodation to families affected by childhood cancer and other life-threatening and life-limiting conditions. “This is a cause”, Joseph affirmed, “close to all our hearts”.
As well as the bangers and mash (sausages kindly donated by Broad Oak Bangers and the Runcible Spoon), there was friendly competition for a games’ trophy awarded for darts, shove ha’penny, pool, indoor horse-racing and even a very lively ‘snap’ contest. The winning team: The Other Halves (wives and partners of the crew members).
The early twentieth century US presidential adviser Booker T Washington once observed: “Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others”, a truth clearly borne out by these volunteer lifeboat crews coming together to support a fellow charity.
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. The volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 237 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree.
Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 180 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.
The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 RNLI lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives.
Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in RNLI museums, shops and offices.
Photos: kt Bruce