Newquay lifeboat station celebrated the RNLI’s 200th anniversary on Monday.

Operations manager Gareth Horner and Ann-Marie Dale were among representatives from RNLI lifesaving communities around the UK and Ireland who attended a Service of Thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey in London to mark the occasion.

Newquay lifeboat station was founded in 1860 and in that time its crews have launched the lifeboats 2,658 times and saved 434 lives.

It operated an all-weather lifeboat for nearly 80 years until it closed in 1945.

The station re-opened again in 1965. The crews have received several awards for gallantry and now operate two inshore lifeboats. 

The RNLI revealed on the day it turned 200 its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved 146,277 lives during its two centuries of lifesaving. 

Gareth said: “It was a very moving ceremony at Westminster Abbey to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the RNLI.

“Met lots of friends, old and new followed by lunch and, later, afternoon tea at the Athenaeum Club before the dash back to God's Country.

“I’m very proud to be a part of such a dedicated team of volunteers who have followed the example of our predecessors in saving lives for the last 200 years.”

The charity is running events and activities throughout its bicentenary year to remember its important history and celebrate the modern lifesaving service it is today, while hoping to inspire generations of future lifesavers and supporters.  

Newquay Lifeboat Station will be staging several fundraising events including two over the Easter holidays.

There will be a coffee morning at the Hotel Victoria on Saturday, March 23 from 10am to noon. Entry £3 to include tea/coffee and biscuits. 

The Joshua, a replica of the first Newquay lifeboat dating back to 1860 will be on display at the fundraiser.

There will be an Easter Egg Hunt at the harbour on Easter Sunday, 31 March. Those who want to take part can collect entry forms from the RNLI shop at the harbour, £2 entry fee.

Every child submitting a completed entry by 2pm will receive an Easter Egg and their grown up will receive a drinks voucher.

This event has been sponsored by the Boathouse Restaurant.

The Newquay Lifeboat Station shop at the harbour will be open from Sunday 24 March, 10am to 4pm, and the boathouse will be open for visitors from Monday, March 25. Opening times are dependent on the weather and the availability of volunteers.

David Payne from Newquay RNLI said: “We are collecting teddies and other cuddly toys for our always popular teddy stalls at events. 

“If you want to donate any pre-loved teddies with the CE label on, they may be left at our shop at the harbour."

Many of Newquay RNLI lifeboat personnel are following in the footsteps of their own ancestors and we feel sure that successive generations will continue to save lives at sea for another 200 years.

Founded in a London tavern on 4 March 1824 following an appeal from Sir William Hillary, who lived on the Isle of Man and witnessed many shipwrecks, the RNLI has continued saving lives at sea throughout the tests of its history, including tragic disasters, funding challenges and two World Wars.

Two centuries have seen vast developments in the lifeboats and kit used by the charity’s lifesavers – from the early oar-powered vessels to today’s technology-packed boats, which are now built in-house by the charity; and from the rudimentary cork lifejackets of the 1850s to the full protective kit each crew member is now issued with. 

The RNLI’s lifesaving reach and remit has also developed over the course of 200 years. Today, it operates 238 lifeboat stations around the UK and Ireland, including four on the River Thames, and has seasonal lifeguards on over 240 lifeguarded beaches around the UK.

It designs and builds its own lifeboats and runs domestic and international water safety programmes.

While much has changed in 200 years, two things have remained the same – the charity’s dependence on volunteers, who give their time and commitment to save others, and the voluntary contributions from the public which have funded the service for the past two centuries. 

RNLI Chief Executive, Mark Dowie, said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to be at the helm of the RNLI for the past five years, and to see the charity reach its bicentenary.

“For a charity to have survived 200 years based on the time and commitment of volunteers, and the sheer generosity of the public donating to fund it, is truly remarkable.

“It is through the courage and dedication of its incredible people that the RNLI has survived the tests of time, including tragic losses, funding challenges, two World Wars and, more recently, a global pandemic. 

“Today, we mark the bicentenary of the RNLI.

“We remember the achievements and commitment of all those who have been part of the RNLI family over the past two centuries; we celebrate the world-class lifesaving service we provide today, based on our 200 years of learning, expertise and innovation, and we hope to inspire future generations of lifesavers and supporters who will take the RNLI into its next century and beyond. 

“I am immensely grateful to everyone who is involved with the charity – our volunteers, supporters and staff.

“This is our watch, and it is our role to keep our charity safe and secure so it can continue to save lives into the future, as we strive in our vision to save every one.’