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The RNLI at 200


In its 200th anniversary year, the RNLI is still saving lives at sea, and is needed more than ever off the shores of Scotland

This year the RNLI celebrated 200 years, and more than 145,000 lives saved at sea. In two centuries of service, two things remain at the core of this vital organisation, its reliance on selfless volunteers, and public donations to fund their work.

Crews across Scotland alone have  launched 45,853 times during that time, saving 11,838 lives. On November 25th 2012, Ben Thomas was one of the lives saved. Jet skiing with friends, the weather turned and Ben and his friend Gavin ended up in the water, their jetskis sinking. Battling freezing temperatures and brutal waves, they eventually contemplated giving up the fight. Ben said: “We’re thinking maybe it’s our time, how do we make it easy? But we just kept thinking about the kids and our wives at home.” A helicopter flew overhead and missed them then, after five hours in the water, as they waited to die, they saw the lights of rescue boats, and were pulled to safety by the RNLI.

Ben said: “The light started heading towards us and the feeling was amazing to know someone had found us. Then the big RNLI boat pulled upside of us.” Within months Ben started volunteering at Broughty Ferry, Scotland’s busiest RNLI station, alongside six crew members who had spent five hours searching for him that day. Ben has launched on almost 100 rescues and been instrumental in saving five lives himself.