One Crew: The RNLI's Official 200-Year History

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Product code: RS0011901

In the 200 years since it was founded, the RNLI has saved more than 144,000 lives.

It all began with a meeting in London in 1824 to act on a proposal by Sir William Hillary: the formation of a National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck. It is his vision that still drives the RNLI today. The vast majority of its crews are volunteers, backed up by fundraisers from every walk of life. And the charity today saves lives in more ways, in more places – through lifeguards, water safety and international work.

Since its foundation, the RNLI has faced challenges, notably highlighted by the Lifeboat Journal in April 1852, ‘lifeboats have been too few in number, of imperfect form and construction, and often unsuited to the nature of the locality where stationed’.

This book takes a fresh look at the institution's founding and its response to 200 years of inevitable stresses and external pressures. It shares details about numerous unsung heroes, heroines, lesser-known rescues, and well-known events.

The RNLI has overcome many obstacles and is now one of the UK and Ireland’s most respected organisations. How it became so is a story of determination, acumen, skill and bravery. More than 700 names are inscribed on the RNLI Memorial at the RNLI Support Centre in Poole, Dorset. The author and publishers hope that this book is a fitting tribute to such self-sacrifice.

‘This book is a must for anyone who wishes to delve into the RNLI’s fascinating history and better appreciate the key players and events that have formed one of the UK and Ireland’s most treasured institutions. It has been a personal honour to lead the charity into its 200th anniversary; not least because of its volunteer ethos and humanitarian aims. In these pages readers will discover how this lifesaving mission has been the steel thread that has kept the RNLI and its people ready for every challenge since 1824. Now those challenges and achievements have been documented in a superbly told story: the true 200-year tale of how a lifesaving vision has grown into such a special organisation, all thanks to One Crew.’
Mark Dowie, RNLI Chief Executive 2019-2024

  • Hardback
  • 288 pages
  • Author: Helen Doe
  • Foreword: HRH The Duke of Kent

About the author:

Helen Doe is a maritime historian who has published extensively on nineteenth-century sail and steam, including co-editing and contributing to the award-winning  Maritime History of Cornwall. Her previous book was The First Atlantic Liner: Brunel’s Great Western Steamship. Her interests are in the people connected with vessels, whether on land or at sea. She has a PhD from the University of Exeter, where she has been a lecturer for some years. She is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, Vice Chairman of the British Commission for Maritime History, a member of the UK Government’s Council of Experts for National Historic Ships and trustee of the SS Great Britain Trust.

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