RNLI appeal for public help to fund new technology

Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Harold Baines B-840 during a training exercise in Poole bay. Crew wearing new lifejackets.
Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Harold Baines B-840 during a training exercise in Poole bay. Crew wearing new lifejackets.
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LIFEBOAT crews including those in Mablethorpe are appealing for public help to foot the bill for £100,000 of state-of-the-art lifejackets.

Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) chiefs will roll out the new lifejackets next year to the 33 stations in the north sector at a cost of £3,000 per crew, almost £100,000 in total.

Henry Freeman.

Henry Freeman.

The new equipment is vital to crews carrying out their crucial volunteer work which saves thousands of lives at sea each year.

Andy Clift, RNLI inspector for the north, said: “The RNLI’s volunteer lifeboatmen and women often put themselves in difficult and dangerous situations while rescuing others. To help them carry out their role as safely as possible, we owe it to our crews to provide them with the very best equipment available.

“However, our charity is only able to do that with the generosity and support of the public, who I hope will do all they can to help us raise the funds needed to give our lifeboat volunteers new lifejackets in 2012.”

The RNLI are holding a national SOS day aimed to raising funds for the cause on Friday, January 27 2012. They are appealing for local people to target their efforts towards funding the new lifejackets.

Crew on board relief Tamar class lifeboat Victor Freeman 16-13 wearing new lifejackets. Three crew on the bow of the lifeboat undertaking a search exercise.

Crew on board relief Tamar class lifeboat Victor Freeman 16-13 wearing new lifejackets. Three crew on the bow of the lifeboat undertaking a search exercise.

Incorporating the latest in material technology, the new jackets have been jointly designed by the RNLI alongside manufacturer Crewsaver, to specifically meet requirements. They are a world away from the original cork lifejackets invented by RNLI Captain Ward (as pictured) back in 1854.

One of the early versions famously saved the life of Whitby lifeboatman Henry Freeman in 1861 when his lifeboat capsized. As the only member of the crew wearing a lifejacket, he was the sole survivor. The ever evolving lifejacket has been used by all crewmen since.

All stations will receive the lifejackets in 2012 starting in February, but public help is urgently needed. To find out more about SOS day call the RNLI on 0161 7878779 or log on to www.rnli.org.uk/sosday.