Issue 2, Winter 2019

RNLI Facing its own Perfect Storm

20 Dec 2019  | 

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution relies totally on donations to be able to save lives. It's new 'Perfect Storm' appeal is an urgent response to try to increase public support in donations and legacy gifts. Chief Executive Mark Dowie says, “The RNLI is facing some major challenges. We have a shortfall in funds, but more people than ever need our help.”

The Islay Lifeboat - ©Clive Booth Photography

Since it was launched in 1824, the RNLI has saved more than 140,000 lives. It was the dedication of philanthropist Sir William Hillary that saw the launch of what was to become the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Living on the Isle of Man, he had seen countless shipwrecks and been involved in rescuing many victims of the perilous Irish Sea.

Saving lives... creating futures

RNLI volunteer Kirstan Gorvin and his lifeguard son Tristan, aged 16, both help to save lives off the Cornish coast. They owe their lives to a Will bequest made by Birmingham timber merchant James Stevens in 1894. Kirstan’s great-great-grandfather was saved by one of the lifeboats funded by the donation. “If James Stevens hadn’t remembered the RNLI when writing his Will, I wouldn’t be here today, and neither would my children. It’s so inspiring to think that one supporter’s legacy has meant my family has continued through the generations, and we’ve been able to give back by joining the charity to continue saving lives at sea.” 

The RNLI currently provides a 24-hour search and rescue service around the UK and Ireland. In 2018 alone, crews launched over 8,900 times and helped more than 9,400 people. The crew members are volunteers who take on the merciless seas and face daily dangers in their brave rescues. Most don’t have a nautical background, so they receive training to give them the vital skills they need to save lives, as well as the high standard of technical expertise to operate the lifeboats and equipment.

The charity’s lifeguards also provide a reassuring presence on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. Last year, they responded to over 19,400 incidents and helped more than 32,000 people.

How you can help

As a registered charity independent from Government, the RNLI relies on the generosity of the public to fund its lifesaving work. One-off donations, RNLI membership, online shopping and gifts in Wills can all make a difference. Six out of ten lifeboat launches are funded entirely by legacies. You can donate on the website where you can also read stories from survivors and find details of the emergencies the crews are called out to across the UK and Ireland. Visit or connect on Facebook: /RNLI and Twitter: @RNLI

The Islay Lifeboat Crew - ©Clive Booth Photography

Capturing moments of bravery

Photographer Clive Booth captured these amazing images of the Islay Lifeboat and crew as part of his larger project to record the experiences of life on a Scottish island. His evocative photographs graphically illustrate the merciless power of the seas and the bravery of those who risk their own lives to save people in peril.

Clive says, "This craft and its crew of mostly unpaid volunteers, are all that’s between you and your God. It’s an incredibly humbling experience. Seeing the Severn Class Lifeboat heading towards me on a freezing cold December day made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. I believe this boat, her crew and the RNLI can be summed up in a single word. The word epitomises that rarest and most precious quality of humanity: selflessness."

You can find out more about Clive’s photography and film projects at Follow him on Facebook /CliveBoothPhoto and Twitter @CliveBoothphoto to see details of his events and workshops. Pictures are ©Clive Booth