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Leverburgh lifeboat station celebrates RNLI’s 200th anniversary

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has celebrated 200 years of saving lives at sea, thanks to volunteers, like those at Leverburgh lifeboat station, giving their time to save others, all funded by voluntary public donations. The RNLI lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved an incredible 146,277 lives during its two centuries of lifesaving.

Leverburgh RNLI team in London (RNLI)

Leverburgh RNLI lifeboat station was founded in 2012 and in that time its crew have launched their lifeboat 110 times. The station has seen several types of lifeboat since its inception, beginning with a Mersey Class Lifeboat, moving on to a Shannon in 2018 and then in 2021 an Atlantic 85 was welcomed to the station. The station serves a wide area starting from north of Harris, as far south as North Uist, and not forgetting the station’s ‘home turf’ the Sound of Harris – a stretch of water known not to be for the fainthearted!

There are nine qualified crew at the station (including four helms) and five trainees. The volunteer crew are supported by a team of Launch Authorities, their Boathouse Manager and a local team of fundraisers. The current Lifeboat was called on 16 times in its first full year of service, which is no mean feat for such a small team. None of which would have been possible without the support of the community. To mark 200 years of the RNLI, a Service of Thanksgiving was held at Westminster Abbey, attended by representatives from RNLI lifesaving communities around the UK and Ireland, including Mairi MacInnes and Jethro Lomas from Leverburgh’s volunteer crew and Kenny MacLeod, the station’s training co-ordinator.

Catriona MacLennan, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Leverburgh RNLI says: “Despite having only been around for a very short time in comparison to the wider charity, we feel fortunate to be in the position where we can continue the work of saving lives at sea, like so many before us around the nation have done. We are marking this special anniversary through a number of events both here in Harris and in North Uist.” A coffee afternoon will be held in Leverburgh Village Hall on Saturday 23rd March. A warm welcome will await everyone between 2 and 4.30 pm.

The RNLI’s lifesaving reach and remit has also developed over the course of 200 years. Today, it operates 238 lifeboat stations around the UK and Ireland, including four on the River Thames, and has seasonal lifeguards on over 240 lifeguarded beaches around the UK. It designs and builds its own lifeboats and runs domestic and international water safety programmes.

While much has changed in 200 years, two things have remained the same – the charity’s reliance on volunteers, who give their time and commitment to save others, and the voluntary contributions from the public which have funded the service for the past two centuries.


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