RNLI Lifeboat Service, Lifeboat Crew Retirement Gift

RNLI Lifeboat crewman. This sculpture makes the perfect crew or supporter's achievement or retirement gift. We offer a personalised engraved brass plate as standard to make a great gift for members of the Lifeboat Service (RNLI).

£204.00 £170.00



' For those in Peril on the Sea '


It took a ferocious easterly gale which drove a sailing ship onto the rocks at the mouth of the River Tyne in 1789 with the loss of everybody on board, to spur a local club, whose clubhouse overlooked the mouth of the Tyne, to offer a reward to anybody who could build a very seaworthy boat which could be used for rescue work. The prize, 1 Guinea or 2.50 US Dollars, was presented to a William Wouldhave ( a schoolteacher ) who submitted a plan for a self-righting lifeboat - although the plan was never used. The idea to post very strong, seaworthy boats propelled by oars at strategic points along the coast of Britain was not a new one.


Archdeacon Sharp of Northumberland managed a large estate whose profits were devoted to charity and around 1780 he decided that some of this money should be used to rescue sailors in peril. He arranged for a fishing boat to be converted into an ' unsinkable ' rescue boat and this was stationed at Bamburgh on the coast north of Newcastle in an area where shipwrecks were all too common. This boat, with a volunteer crew of local fisherman, was first used to save life at sea in 1786.  Soon other lifeboats were being constructed; Henry Greathead of Newecastle became famous as a lifeboat builder and his first boat called the  'Original ' was launched in 1789 and rescued her first sailors from the sea on January 30th, 1790. 


With mounting pressure for action to reduce the large number of seaman drowned each year due to shipwrecks Lloyd's of London provided £2000 to construct lifeboats and Greathead, in fact, built 30 over the next 14 years.  But it was not until 1823 that Lt. - Col. Sir William Hilary launched an appeal from his home in the Isle of Man for the formation of a National Lifeboat Service and in the following year the Royal National Lifeboat Institution was founded.  Hilary himself was a member of the volunteer crew of the Douglas lifeboat until he was 60 years old and won the Gold Medal for Gallantry three times for his part in saving more than 300 lives at sea.


Over the next quarter century in 1849, when the number of lifeboats owned by the R.N.L.I. was 20 and the lives saved exceeded 6000, public interest in supporting this most necessary service began to fall away. It was, however, reinvigorated when the Fourth Duke of Northumberland, a former First Lord of the Admiralty, became President in 1851. By 1889 their were 293 lifeboats, built to a much better design, stationed round the coasts of Britain and Ireland and these were, in time, replaced by a very much better model designed by George Watson who became the R.N.L.I.'s consultant architect  It was not until after 1903 that experiments were carried out to provide engines to drive the boats and these did not become common until after 1920.

The modern lifeboat bears little or no resemblance to the oar propelled boats which provided the service for over a hundred years. But other things have not changed. The R.N.L.I. is still wholly supported by public donation and the lifeboat crews are all volunteers. The Captain of each boat is elected each year from these volunteers and he will hold powers of life and death over his crewmen while the lifeboat is at sea. Sea rescue is a very dangerous business and the decisions made by a Captain must always be the wisest and be accepted without question by his crew. On a number of occasions lifeboats have been lost at sea with all their crew but, nevertheless, new boats and new crews always come forward to take their place.


For the non-sailor it is difficult to judge the effectiveness of the R.N.L.I. but for the man drowning in the sea the sight of a man clad in yellow oilskins throwing a lifebelt is something he will remember with gratitude for the rest of his life.

This is the Cold Cast bronze figurine and it makes an ideal retirement or long service presentation piece for anyone connected to the Royal National Lifeboat Institute lifeboats.

In an effort to be more sustainable we've had our outer packaging redesigned to be fully recyclable. Every statue comes in a simple elegant printed brown box with printed fabric tape.

Inside the box the statue will be protected with bubble wrap and special foam bags to minimise the chance of damage in transit. 

Recyclable cardboard packaging

All our statues include an optional engraved plate on the wooden base. On the bronze statues the plate is jewellers brass and the pewter/ silver statues have a nickel silver plate.

To add a plate to your statue please select the option above and enter your engraving details. Please note if the engraving is left blank no plate will be included. If you'd like a blank plate please write this in the engraving details.

Please DOUBLE CHECK the engraving as mistakes will require a new plate to be made.

On the engraving the text will be centred and the font sized to fit the plate.

More Information
Product CodeAL2
Price CodeFC
Sculpting Scale12"
Base Material of the StatueCold Cast Resin
Height Including Presentation Base14" / 36cm
Width with Presentation Base6" / 15cm
Depth with Presentation Base6" / 15cm

Please be aware that these measurements are not exact and have been rounded for ease.
As every item is individually handmade the exact dimensions may vary slighty.