A long-serving Penlee RNLI volunteer has been recognised in the King’s New Year Honours. 

Rosalie Whitlock has dedicated more than 52 years to helping the charity save lives at sea and has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM).

“I am thrilled and delighted about this award,” said the Penlee fundraising secretary. “It’s quite overwhelming, though none of it would have been possible without the team of dedicated volunteers. 

“The RNLI is a wonderful family and one which I am proud to belong to. While I believe one should never look for thanks doing a job that you love, when you get recognition, it really means so much.”

Rosalie has been an integral part of the RNLI lifesaving community in Penlee, Mousehole and Newlyn since joining as a fundraiser in 1970 with a collection box on the main street of Penzance. 

She quickly became honorary fundraising secretary at Penlee, a position she has held for 48 years and a position she continues to carry out with energy and enthusiasm to this day. She then began selling souvenirs from a weekly table top stall in the town car park before having the vision to set up the RNLI’s first shop in Penzance in 1983.

She is still the volunteer shop manager, sharing her wealth of experience with other RNLI shops across the South West. Since she joined, the Penlee fundraising branch is credited with raising nearly £2million through souvenir and shop sales and events.

She also played a pivotal role during the Penlee Lifeboat Disaster when, in December 1981, all eight RNLI crew on the Solomon Browne tragically lost their lives in an attempt to save the crew onboard the Union Star.

She organised a team of fundraisers who worked day and night for several weeks taking calls and dealing with the sacks of mail and donations that were arriving daily while also supporting friends and her local community grieving for those lost. 

Rosalie added: “My heart will always be with Penlee, having been through those dark times of the disaster, being there in the aftermath and then slowly helping to build the station up again to what we are today has been a great privilege.” 

In total five RNLI volunteers with nearly 240 years of service between them are among those who have been recognised by His Majesty The King for their incredible contribution to the charity and drowning prevention. 

RNLI chief executive Mark Dowie said: “In 2022, the RNLI has seen a welcome return to volunteer recognition events following the pandemic, with hundreds being recognised for long service and excellence in volunteering awards.

“These six individuals represent the icing on the cake as we commemorate the contribution all our people have made in another busy year for our frontline services. I have found you can never make assumptions about the people you meet in all roles within the RNLI; they all have fascinating back-stories and I often leave a visit feeling profoundly humbled. The stories behind these six are no exception, epitomising the RNLI’s values in all they do to save lives at sea. They richly deserve this national recognition – my congratulations to them all.”

Hayle’s Sue Sayer, 60, was appointed an MBE for services to wildlife protection and conservation.

As founder and director of the The Seal Research Trust she has been a driving force in the study of grey seals for 20 years.

She said she was ‘overwhelmed’ at the honour but said she was accepting it on behalf of everyone involved with the trust.

Also honoured in the New Year’s Honours list was Ludgvan’s Floyd Steadman and St Just’s David Hall-Davies.

Former Saracens rugby star Mr Steadman was recognised with an OBE for services to rugby union, to education and to charity.

Cornwall YMCA’s chief executive and company secretary Mr Hall-Davies was awarded an MBE for services to young people and to the community in Cornwall.


• Martin Dorey (Bude), founder of #2minute campaigns, MBE for services to recycling and the environment.

• David Hall-Davies (St Just), CEO of Cornwall YMCA, MBE for services to young people and the community.

• Ian Jones (Truro) CEO of Volunteer Cornwall, MBE for services to volunteering in Cornwall.

• Susan Sayer (Hayle), founder of The Seal Research Trust, MBE for services to wildlife protection and conversation.

Judith Backus (Truro), • MBE for services to disadvantaged people in Cornwall.

• Floyd Steadman (Ludgvan), OBE for services to rugby union, education and cricket.

• Michael Weeks (Camborne), operation manager of the Cornwall Cricket League , BEM for services to cricket in Cornwall.