As dusk fell on September 28, Rye Harbour residents and RNLI families welcomed James and Belinda Richardson and their elegant sports car on the latest leg of their fund-raising tour, the RNLI-911 Challenge.
Suppose that by careful saving a couple has finally achieved the ambition of owning a classic car: there would be many possible ways to celebrate. Retired builder James and his wife Belinda, an interior designer, saw an opportunity to do something special with their Porsche 911 and launched their project to visit all 238 RNLI lifeboat stations in the British Isles within 911 hours, covering all petrol and accommodation costs themselves. Their aim was to raise £238 per station – more than £56,000 in total.
They set off from Teddington in August and reached the end of their journey at London’s Tower lifeboat station on 30 September. Their visit to Rye Harbour RNLI, near the end of their project, found them in reflective mood. “The common thread in all the stations we have been to,” said Linda, “is the pride and passion shown – by volunteer crew, fundraisers, press-officers – in the RNLI’s work to save lives at sea. We have felt this in the same warm, welcoming and strong handshake everyone has given us.”
Amongst the couple’s many memories of the trip they recalled the police escort at Stonehaven (a local policeman was RNLI crew); Father Liam’s cooked breakfast on Arranmore (another volunteer crew member), and the Atlantic inshore lifeboat dangled by crane just above their beloved Porsche at Macduff in Banffshire.
James and Belinda are already looking to the future, as he explained: “Our experiences have made us passionate about making sure that the RNLI’s mission to save lives is supported in the best way possible and that is why we want to continue fundraising in the future.”