On Wednesday 25 July, a group of us went to Weston-Super-Mare for the day. Cresswells coaches took us and they were fantastic picking us up from various locations, even negotiating the bridge at Eckington to pick up people there before arriving at the motorway. The day was lovely and hot and a small group of us ambled along the prom until we reached a cafe on the Plaza, where we had coffee and eventually after a lot of chat and sunbathing had a super lunch, English seaside food has certainly improved over the years. Of course we had the obligatory ice cream on the pier eventually walking back to the coach barefoot along the hot sand, unable to paddle as the sea had gone out seemingly as far as Wales.

On Friday 27 July, we had a talk on the RNLI given by Chris Edwards of the Gloucester branch. . He said the British Isles has the most dangerous coastal waters in the world.

There were no lifeboats in the past except heavy rowing boats manned by very strong men and on February 28 1823 Sir William Hillary made an impassioned appeal to the nation calling for a service dedicated to saving lives at sea but to no avail. In 1824 he decided to provide the first sponsored lifeboat.

A shipwreck institution was formed funded by contributions and in 1860 the RNLI was formed. and granted a royal charter. But things did not go too well at first until Sir Charles Macara became the saviour of the RNLI with street collections in Manchester and proper funding and management was put in place. The RNLI is the largest charity that saves life at sea run completely on donations

Nowadays there are various types of lifeboat from hover to state of the art space age allweather waterjet boats. The RNLI now builds its own lifeboats thus saving millions of pounds a year.

Today there are 422 lifeboats and 238 stations and 141509 lives saved since founding and the RNLI is internationally recognised and has training schemes all over the world and is prepared to travel at short notice.

In 2001, by request, the first beach patrols were formed with highly professional qualified staff. Now there are 249 beach patrols paid for by whoever owns the beach while the RNLI provides equipment and training. The RNLI also undertake flood rescues nationally and internationally. The crews are mainly voluntary from all walks of life with just 10% being women. Very few are paid.

For more details ring Secretary Sandra Tranter on 01386 832532