The Trust was delighted to visit the Gravesend RNLI station to present a cheque for £2,000. The charity is dedicated to saving lives at sea and some inland waterways, including the River Thames. Gravesend is one of the newest lifeboat stations and one of four on the River Thames. Its sister station at Tower Bridge is the busiest RNLI station in the country and, like Gravesend, is manned by a crew 24 hours a day bbecause of the need for extremely fast response times.
The funds were collected at the 2017 Festival of Remembrance and from other donations throughout the year.
The RNLI played an important role during the First World War: Lifeboat crews launched 1,808 times, often to attend ships which had been torpedoed or had struck mines. A total of 5,332 people were rescued during the war. Most notable was in October 1914, when the RNLI undertook one of the biggest rescue efforts in its history. The hospital ship, SS Rohilla, was on its way to Dunkirk to evacuate wounded soldiers when it ran aground in storms just one mile from Whitby. The rescue mission took three days due to the terrible weather. 144 of the medical staff and crew on board were saved, although 85 sadly perished.
Today the RNLI has 238 lifeboat stations and operates 444 lifeboats. In addition to providing a 24-hour lifeboat search and rescue service, seasonal lifeguards, and flood rescue response, they also operate training and educational initiatives, particularly for young people. 6,000 children a week are spoken to by education volunteers about sea and beach safety, and over 800 children a week receive training.
Our thanks to Alan Ashby, Chairman of the Welling, Eltham and Sidcup branch, the Duty Helmsman and crew members for their hospitality.
For more information for volunteering to help the fundraising of the local branch please contact Alan Ashby on 020 8304 5670.