All aboard to help Tunbridge Wells' RNLI branch

MAKING WAVES: Volunteers visit a lifeboat station each year

All aboard to help Tunbridge Wells' RNLI branch

by Andy Tong | 9th January 2019

THE Tunbridge Wells branch of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution [RNLI] managed to collect £15,000 on behalf of the rescue service last year, but they are keen to increase that sum – and bring more helpers on board.

The RNLI receives no government help and relies entirely on donations and legacies to raise the £177million needed annually to keep the lifeboats afloat nationwide.

The town’s contingent of volunteers numbers only eight, but they stage a wide variety of events throughout the year.

These range from collections at local shops and stalls at local fetes to coffee mornings, auction inclusions, the Flag Day and an annual outing.

The high watermark of fundraising came in 2011, when they were able to pass on £20,000.

Now they would like to hear from anyone who can spare two hours each year to help with collections.

Local volunteer Joan Hamilton-Smith said: “Despite being 30-plus miles from the nearest coastal town, it’s very humbling that so many people in Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding areas support our branch of the RNLI.”

She added: “Visits to lifeboat stations around the south-east coast give us that extra incentive to raise as much as we can. We get an insight into what it’s like to be a crew member.

“Tower Lifeboat Station on the River Thames was particularly interesting as it’s on a pontoon, so standing still and upright when a boat went by was challenging.

“It was even suggested that anyone susceptible to seasickness take a tablet with them.”

For more information about volunteering, call Joan on 01892 539551 or email: cjay13@hotmail.co.uk

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