Many of you will have read the story from a couple of weeks ago. I was in Robin Hood’s Bay at the time, when a father and daughter were plucked from the sea off Stoupe Beck by the crew of Whitby RNLI. It got me thinking about what a wonderful organisation this is.
There are many worthy charities, but few require their volunteers to risk their lives for others. 600 RNLI lifeboatmen have died on duty, a duty which has saved over 140,000 lives.
Many of the most heroic stories are from the local area. A plaque at the top of Bay Bank proudly tells the story of the The Visitor, wrecked off Robin Hood’s Bay during a storm in January 1881. With the lifeboat unable to launch from Whitby due to the storm, a decision was made to transport the vessel overland to Robin Hood’s Bay.
This would be quite a feat today, but back then they had no vehicles, and had to make the journey over rugged tracks covered with six foot snow drifts.
Over 200 volunteers from both communities united to clear a path, working through the night, and miraculously the lifeboat got there in just three hours!
Nobody tell Hollywood about this or we can expect ‘Save My Heart, starring Tom Cruise as Captain Buck Thunder, who almost single-handedly pulls the boat, to rescue his girlfriend Sandy Heart (Kyra Knightley or someone), the only female captain of a brig. Actually it would still be better than Vanilla Sky.
There are many famous names too from Whitby, none more so than Henry Freeman.
After all other crew members perished on his first rescue attempt, he went on to serve for 40 years, 22 as coxwain.
But it’s not just in the bravery and vital work of the lifeboatmen that the RNLI stands out.
Anyone visiting the dock in Robin Hood’s Bay will have seen the giant fish collection box. The fundraisers they do actually all work directly for the RNLI and work very hard for the money they raise, rarely in busy town centres, but more typically at coastal locations. Look out also for great events such as the Fish and Chip Supper on Thursday 8 October 2015 at Terry’s on Pier Road. If you want to see more of the great work Whitby RNLI do, visit http://www.whitbylifeboat.org.uk/