RNLI’s pride - volunteers to join London's Remembrance Sunday Cenotaph service

Lifeboats News Release

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution has today expressed immense pride at being invited to take part in London’s official Remembrance Sunday Cenotaph service in London – the first time in history for the charity that saves at sea.

Poppy and remembrance cross at the RNLI garden, National Memorial Arboretum

RNLI/Nathan Williams

Poppy and remembrance cross at the RNLI garden, National Memorial Arboretum

In total, 19 RNLI volunteers from across the UK and Ireland will participate in the commemorative event at the Cenotaph in Whitehall on Sunday 13 November, representing the many thousands of volunteer lifeboat crew members and fundraisers that make the charity’s lifesaving work possible.

Although thousands of RNLI volunteers have publicly attended Remembrance Sunday events throughout history, this is the first time the RNLI has been formally invited to take part in the service, joining 48 other organisations and associations who will also be officially involved.

The invitation is especially poignant given the role played by the RNLI in the famed Dunkirk “little ships” evacuation in 1940. A total of 20 RNLI lifeboats were among the 700 private boats that sailed from Ramsgate to Dunkirk between 26 May and 4 June 1940 as part of Operation Dynamo, helping to rescue more than 338,000 British and French soldiers who were trapped on the beaches at Dunkirk during the Second World War.

Paul Boissier, Chief Executive of the RNLI, said to be invited to formally take part on Remembrance Sunday was both an honour and a privilege: ‘Like so many other associations, the RNLI played its part in the two World Wars. Apart from the many volunteers who went off to fight, many lifeboats joined the flotilla of Little Ships to pull off the audacious evacuation in 1940.

‘It fills me with immense pride that we will be formally represented in the Cenotaph service as part of the annual commemoration. This is the first time in history the RNLI will be represented and I know that on the day our volunteers’ thoughts will be with the many millions who gave their own lives so that today we can enjoy the freedom we have.’

The 19 RNLI volunteers who will represent the charity on Remembrance Sunday are:

• Howard Fields, 52, from Whitby, Yorkshire
• Richard Martin, 57, from Newbiggin by the Sea, Northumberland
• Graham Shaw,71, from Port St Mary, Isle of Man,
• Sandy Kerr, 25, from Cullercoats, North Tyneside
• Phillip Woodcock, 44, from St Mary's, Isles of Scilly
• Nathan Wilmer, 38, from Newquay, Cornwall
• Brian Thomson, 64, from Holyhead, Isle of Anglesey
• Stewart (Mark) Kenyon, 53, from Bride, Isle of Man
• Richard Tutton, 45, from Barry Dock, Wales
• Marc Gibbons, 27, from Barry Dock, Wales
• Paul Filby, 51, from Garndolbenmaen, Wales
• Frank Healy, 47, from Larne, Northern Ireland
• Derek Rea, 41, from Larne, Northern Ireland
• Rory Hoy, 49, from Enniskillen, Northern Ireland
• Patricia Browne, 67, from Portaferry, Northern Ireland
• Ronald Churchill, 64, from Arbroath, Scotland
• Robin Castle, 52, from Sheerness, Kent
• Cubitt Siely, 54, from Happisburgh, Norfolk
• Neil Withers, 53, from London

Organised by the Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Cenotaph Service and Parade is a poignant event in which thousands of people gather to remember the sacrifices people have made throughout history, to safeguard the memory of those who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy today.

The RNLI was established in 1824 and to this day remains a charity that is independent of the Government and relies almost entirely on voluntary contributions to fund its lifesaving work. In 2015 the charity’s lifeboats launched a total of 8,228 times and rescued 7,973 people, saving 348 lives. Meanwhile RNLI beach lifeguards responded to a total of 15,714 incidents, assisted 18,181 people, and saved 94 lives.

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Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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