The Royal National Lifeboat Institution

Presented by: Professor Frank Sanderson

Honorable Pro-Chancellor, I have pleasure in presenting the Royal National  Lifeboat Institution for a Corporate Award of Liverpool John Moores University.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution can trace its origins to 1824 when the first lifeboat service, known as The National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck was coordinated by Sir William Hillary. 

The RNLI has about 4500 volunteers operating throughout the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

The 233 lifeboat stations provide a round the clock service to cover search and rescue requirements up to 100 miles out to sea. RNLI lifeguards help hundreds of thousands of swimmers and sailors to enjoy the seaside safely by offering pre-emptive advice to help people avoid getting into difficulty in the first place.

Over a thousand children are rescued from the sea each year, and many more young lives are saved through the RNLI's efforts to change attitudes and behaviour of those who use the sea regularly. If leisure boat users were more safety conscious and checked engines before setting off to sea, many of the 1,000 lifeboat launches each year to boats suffering machinery failure would be unnecessary. To tackle this problem, the RNLI offer free Safety Equipment Advisory Checks to all boat owners.  

It's important to point out that the RNLI is a charity which is entirely dependent on voluntary contributions and legacies for its income - income which is needed for  recurrent costs of the service, for new boats and for crew training.    

This training  takes place at the Lifeboat College in Poole, which also offers training to crews from around the world. On Merseyside, we have lifeboat stations at New Brighton, West Kirby and Hoylake, the latter being one of the oldest stations in these islands, having been established by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board in 1803. 

The local lifeboats and lifeguards have been involved in many rescues over the years and have saved countless lives in the Mersey and Dee estuaries and the Irish Sea. The volunteers, including many involved with the vital fund-raising, unselfishly give up their time to help others - for example, Ann Walker, a friend of our university who is in the audience today, has raised funds for almost 4 decades on behalf of Heswall & Gayton Ladies Guild - one of several hundred fund raising committees around the country who run not only coffee mornings and cake stalls but also sponsored walks and even parachute jumps. 

Incidentally, the latest project for the Heswall & Gayton Ladies Guild is to raise £2 million towards a new boathouse, boat and tractor for the Hoylake Station. We wish them well. 

The RNLI has made and continues to make a priceless contribution to the safety of countless numbers of people in these islands, and not least in our region. 

We all have reason to be grateful for their unselfish and often dangerous endeavours. 

It is thus with great pleasure that we invite the Chairman of the RNLI, Admiral Sir Jock Slater, to receive on behalf of RNLI the Corporate Award from Liverpool John Moores University.