The RNLI – ordinary people doing extraordinary things since 1824


For over 180 years, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has saved lives at sea around our coast. When Sir William Hillary, a Quaker lifeboatman, founded the National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck in 1824, lifeboats were few in number, powered by teams of oarsmen, and volunteer crews could only operate close to the beaches from which they had been launched.


Today, the RNLI operates more than 400 fast, modern craft from more than 230 lifeboat stations. On call day and night; 24 hours a day; 365 days a year; we provide a swift and efficient rescue service up to 100 miles offshore anywhere round the coast of the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. Each year our lifeboat crews rescue more than 7,000 people.

The work of these dedicated crews, the ordinary people doing extraordinary things, remains the vital thread that runs through the history of the RNLI. Nearly 200 years on, we are still proud to rely on the expertise and courage of our volunteer crews and fundraisers.


We are also proud to be a registered charity, depending on voluntary contributions and legacies from the public. Every year it costs over £100M to run the RNLI, which comes almost entirely from voluntary donations. For every £1 spent, 80p goes directly on the rescue service itself, 16p is used for fundraising and 4p for support. Help us save lives at sea by joining today. Call 0800 543210 or visit


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