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CI RNLI Celebrates 200 Years And 1,579 Lives Saved

1,579 lives have been saved by the Channel Islands' RNLI teams across its 200 year history.

Since the national charity was founded in 1824, volunteers crews in the Channel Islands have launched 5,153 times.

Lifeboat Operations Manager for RNLI Jersey, Nigel Sweeney, says its work would not be possible without the support of islanders:

"It's an incredible life-saving service. It's voluntary. It's not paid by government. It is (paid for by) contributions, so everybody who puts money in boxes is highly important and valued.

We've got 66 volunteers, we have fundraisers, we have the lifeguards - so it's a big organisation of volunteers to keep going in one direction.

We run three boats, two lifeboat stations, and have had 48 shouts so far this year. That is a fairly slow start, but when the summer months come it will liven up."

Lifeguards were established in Jersey in 2011 and have helped 4,042 people to safety.

St Peter Port is one of the oldest lifeboat stations, established in 1803, before the RNLI, and joining the institution in 1861. 

Jason Hobbs, Lifeboat Operations Manager in Guernsey, explains that the service plays a key role in island life:

"It's the RNLI's 200 year anniversary which is wonderful. Albeit ironically, Guernsey was slightly earlier than that. It was in 1861 that the RNLI took Guernsey under its wing.

We've rescued dogs off the cliffs, people off the cliffs, boats in difficulty, ropes wrapped around props - a whole variety of things. Last year, we had the K2 rock where we rescued five youngsters.

I think the great thing with Guernsey is the general support is absolutely huge."

More than 50 medals have been awarded to volunteers in the Channel Islands for their bravery.

The first medals were awarded to F De St Croix, Jean De St Croix, P De St Croix and Phillip Nichole for the rescue of the ship, Fanny, in 1825, where five people were drowned.

Across the 200 years, there have been vast improvements in the lifeboats and kit used by the charity's lifesavers.

Declan Gaudion is the Coxswain Mechanic of Alderney's lifeboat. He says there can still be challenges:

"Every lifeboat station has local conditions that pose different challenges. One thing we do get in this neck of the woods - and particularly around Alderney - are very, very strong tides so you can get some pretty challenging conditions around the place in localised areas.

I think something that's very close to every Channel Islanders' heart is what the lifeboat services do in all of the islands."

Stamps have been issued by both Guernsey and Jersey Post and in the Isle of Man to commemorate the milestone.


Gibby Gordon is a volunteer in Jersey:

"It's a major thing for the RNLI. 200 years of life saving - that's two lives saved every two hours for the last 200 years.

We are hoping by celebrating the RNLI for 200 years it will inspire people to join and younger generations to look at us and want to be part of it.

It is a totally voluntary service that relies on charitable donations, so a great cause to volunteer for."

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