I first came to Islay in 1994, shooting a film about sailing and whisky – two things that I found are best left well apart. The story involved filming what was then an RNLI Thames class lifeboat and I stood on the deck of our tiny yacht mesmerised as this majestic boat sped towards us in the dusk of an autumn evening. What must it feel like to be rescued? This craft and its crew of mostly unpaid Volunteers are all that’s between you and your God. It’s an incredibly humbling experience and one I never forgot. Seeing the Severn Class Lifeboat heading towards me on a freezing cold December day brought back those same emotions, making the hair stand up on the back of my neck. I believe this boat, her crew and the RNLI can be summed up in a single word. The word epitomises that rarest and most precious quality of humanity: selflessness.
As well as the full time crews there are more than 4,700 Volunteer lifeboat crew members around 8% of whom are women and over 3,000 Volunteer shore crew members who support them at stations around the coasts of the UK and Ireland. Volunteer lifeboat crews rescue an average of 24 people every day.: