Today marks two centuries of the RNLI who have saved 146,277 lives at sea. The lifeboat station at Poole Quay was founded in 1865 and since then, generations of lifeguards and lifeboat crews have saved 830 lives from more than 7,000 lifeboat launches. 

A service of thanksgiving to mark the birthday is taking place at Westminster Abbey in London today and will be attended by representatives from the RNLI including volunteers from Poole. 

Suzie Jupp, a member of the volunteer crew at Poole and physiotherapist at Poole Hospital, will be in London today. Gerald Beddard, a fundraiser, was also selected to represent the station having been an RNLI volunteer since the age of five. His dedication has raised thousands of pounds over the years, including volunteering on Christmas day collecting donations on the Sandbank’s chain ferry.  

Meanwhile our very own PHC Pilot Boat Coxswain and Team Leader Jonathan Clark, the longest serving volunteer at Poole’s lifeboat station at 40 years service, said: “Reflecting on my years of volunteer service, I’ve experienced numerous changes, memorable moments with amazing individuals and serving with my father, and now alongside my daughter. Moving forward, advancements in technology, equipment, boat design, and training will all contribute to ensuring the legacy and safety of RNLI lifesavers. A big thank you to all who have supported us in the past, those who will continue to do so, and to everyone who assists us by donating funds. Thank you as your contributions to our charity enable us to keep saving lives at sea”.

Harry Gregory, Poole Harbour Master, said “PHC is very grateful to be able to work hand in glove with the hugely dedicated folk at Poole Lifeboat station with several of our staff also currently or previously volunteering. Jon Clark should be particularly commended for his lifelong commitment to the RNLI and the skills and experience this brings to his day job at PHC. We are very proud that the harbour is also home to the RNLI’s national Support Centre and All-Weather Lifeboat factory. 2024 is looking packed with RNLI events and we are thrilled to be working with the RNLI to deliver the headline event in May:  the Poole Lifeboat Festival.”

There is a packed calendar of 200th celebration events locally kicking off with Float to Live festival on March 9 and climaxing in the Poole Lifeboat Festival on May 18-19 when the quay will host the History of Maritime Search & Rescue Boat show, with an array of historic and international in-service lifeboats moored at the Marina. The public will be able to access Poole Quay Boat Haven’s pontoons to see the lifeboats and talk to crews. The Quay will have static lifeboats on display, a pop-up RNLI shop, Lifeboat Enthusiasts models and heritage stands. On Sunday afternoon there will be a Parade of Sail to close the event, and this will feature the current RNLI fleet, historic and international lifeboats, processing down the main channel and returning up the north channel.