Key ‘Lifeboat Ladies’ at RNLI Rye Harbour

Lifeboats News Release

When the lifeboat service returned to Rye Harbour in 1966, after a break of thirty-eight years, the crew’s wives banded together to form the ‘Lifeboat Ladies’ fundraising team

RNLI/KT Bruce

Betty Broocks and the yellow welly

This group of women, twelve in all, began raising funds for the crew’s life-saving equipment and kit. The first task was to provide the volunteers with yellow wellies.

Betty Broocks still lives in the Harbour today and was one of the founder members. She plays an active roll in fundraising to this very day. She recalls some of the names of the original team: Pat Gawn, Joan Haffenden, Ann Tollett , Edie Pope, Audrey Caister and Barb Jackson. They held coffee mornings, produced wonderful prizes for raffles and helped with all the fundraising events including the popular annual Open Day which has raised thousands of pounds over the years. This money has helped to train and equip many lifeboat crews to help save lives at sea. Since 1824, the charity has saved over 142,700 lives and prevented many tragedies.

Jean Brown is part of today’s team and has been raising money for over forty years. She recalls a Christmas Fair at the Sailing Club in the Harbour which had to come to a very abrupt end as the waters from the river were lapping up to the doors. She said, ‘We are a team made up of lots of different volunteers from all walks of life. We enjoy coming together to do something so worthwhile.’ Jean’s husband Steve is a member of the shore crew and has dedicated thirty years of service to the RNLI and their son Joe, is a designate helm, so it is very much a family effort.

Fundraising at Rye Harbour is no longer just lifeboat ladies: the fundraising manager, Mark Stephenson, is looking for more people, both men and women, to come and join this great team. Be part of a 23,000 nationwide network of fundraisers. With your support the RNLI can train and equip volunteer lifeboat crews, lifeguards and water safety educators, moving ever closer to halving the number of accidental coastal deaths by 2024.

RNLI Media contacts

Kt Bruce, Rye Harbour RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer (07789) 818878 Kt@ktbrucephotography.com

Paul Dunt, Regional Media Officer (South East), 0207 6207426, 07785 296252 paul_dunt@rnli.org.uk

• For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789

RNLI online: For more information on the RNLI please visit http://www.rnli.org/. News releases and other media resources, including RSS feeds, downloadable photos and video, are available at the RNLI News Centre.

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 237 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 180 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.

The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland.


RNLI/KT Bruce

Jean and Joe Brown volunteers at RNLI Rye Harbour station

RNLI/KT Bruce

It all started with the yellow welly

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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or or by email.

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