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Cornwall's RNLI Cries SOS

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11:38am 27th January 2012
(Updated 11:38am 27th January 2012)

Cornwall is told without our donations, the charity that saves lives off our coast would disappear in less than a year.

The RNLI is warning of a cash crisis as it holds SOS day.

Last year it raised £51 million.

But it spent £64 million on rescues alone.

Falmouth lifeboat navigator and fundraising manager Dave Nicholl says, "We've only got eight months' reserves, that's what we keep as a safety margin. If people did stop giving, we just wouldn't be able to provide the service and we're so reliant on our volunteers. We've got an army of fundraising volunteers. They're our unsung heroes, raising money that allows us to go to sea".

He says the target this year is to buy new lifejackets: "Lifejackets cost just over three hundred and fifty pounds each and we're raising money to cover all of the stations in the south west - two hundred and twenty thousand pounds. That means our volunteers, who give up all their time, can go to sea and they've got the best equipment to make sure they're safe.

Some of the Penlee lifeboat crew are cycling 125 miles from Plymouth to Newlyn.

Graham Henderson is on the team:

"The old ones are constantly repaired. They go away to be serviced every so often. But a lot of them are beginning to reach the end of their safe life and the news ones are better designed as well.

"The RNLI is based entirely on voluntary contributions so we do need those contributions to keep going and it's a year round task to keep those coffers full.

"If you see us on the way give us a yell, chuck a couple of quid in the bucket and if you've got the kettle on give us a cup of tea please"!

Here is a run down of events planned in Cornwall and Plymouth:

The Lizard:

RNLI volunteers at The Lizard will proudly throw open the doors of their brand new lifeboat station on SOS Day. Their first guests will be pupils from Landewednack School at 10am. At 1pm the lifeboat station will then be opened to the public. Refreshments, tea, coffee and cakes, will be available to purchase,

Sennen Cove:

Amateur radio enthusiasts Terry George, RNLI Coxswain at Sennen Cove and John Chappell, the station's Lifeboat Operations Manager will communicate in Morse Code, which uses long and short sounds to denote the alphabet, non-stop for 24 hours. Starting on Saturday 28 January and covering different time zones Terry and John will communicate with people all over the world as the station holds a Sea Our Station Open Day on Sunday 29 January, giving visitors the opportunity to see the traditional method of maritime communication in action.


Lifeboat crew at Penlee will cycle from Plymouth RNLI lifeboat station, the 125 miles along the coast back to Newlyn. The five strong team who are training hard for the challenge will make stops at the RNLI stations in Looe, Fowey, Falmouth and The Lizard on route. While the crew battle the hills, between 10am and 3pm on Saturday 28 January, the rest of the lifeboat crew will be washing cars in the inshore lifeboat station as they Soap Our Saloons and serve up bacon rolls from the Sizzle Our Sausages BBQ.

Hayle Lifeguards:

RNLI lifeguards are Soaping Our Saloons in the Marks and Spencer retail park on Friday 27 January.

RNLI SOS Coffee Morning Splits or Scones with various stalls at the Griffin Inn Newquay from 10am on Friday 27 January. Admission £1.50


More than 20 RNLI crew and shore helpers from Looe will cycle from Padstow lifeboat station to Looe lifeboat station on Saturday 28 January for SOS Day.  


Between 12pm and 2pm, Saltash RNLI fundraising branch will invite people to Share Our Soup at the Saltash Sailing Club, guests can chose from an array of different flavoured soups, served with a brown or white bread roll. Tickets are £3.50 and available from branch Chairperson Angie Payne-Hanlon, 01752 842419

Sea Our Services, Plymouth:

The RNLI are urging the residents of Plymouth and South East Cornwall to come and Sea Our Services on Saturday 28 January. From 9am until 5pm, the RNLI will set up an exciting display of equipment stationed on the Plymouth city centre piazza including; a D-class inshore lifeboat, an RNLI lifeguard Rescue Water Craft, Flood Rescue kit and tractors used to launch the charity's lifeboats.

11:38am 27th January 2012

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