Celebrations and donations make RNLI anniversary launch a night to remember

A gala occasion commemorating two centuries of a worldwide institution proved a night to remember in the Island where it all began. The black-tie dinner, sponsored by Ørsted, launched a year of celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).
Hosted at the Comis Hotel by Douglas RNLI and sponsored by renewable energy firm Ørsted, the event saw 230 people enjoy a three-course meal from a locally sourced menu before dancing the night away to acclaimed Island band Retrospect.
In the process, guests helped raise an impressive £32,000 towards the running costs of the Isle of Man’s five lifeboat stations.

During 2022, Island lifeboat crews went to sea on numerous occasions and there were 49 call-outs to those in distress, with five lives saved. There are around 200 volunteers Island-wide and, on average, each of the crew spent 30-40 hours at sea between training and rescues.

Dedicated to saving lives at sea with a 24-hour search and rescue service, the Isle of Man is the birthplace of RNLI which was founded by Sir William Hillary in 1824.
As a Douglas resident, he saw first-hand the treacherous nature of the sea, witnessing dozens of shipwrecks around the Manx coast and saved many lives with the help of locals.

Ever since, the Island – which is also base to the first ever lifeboat station in the British Isles – has had an inextricable link to saving lives at sea.

During the evening, guests heard about the invaluable work of the charity in both Manx waters and further afield, highlighting the level of commitment from a dedicated bunch of volunteers from across the Island.

Gilli Cowley, Chair of Douglas RNLI Lifeboat Guild, said: "It truly was an evening to remember. To be able to welcome our volunteers and supporters from across the Island made it a very special event indeed.

"Of course, this is only the beginning of a year of celebrations marking the RNLI’s 200th anniversary in the Island where it all began.

"The support of guests in both the auction and raffle was beyond generous and, on behalf of the RNLI, I would like to thank everyone who attended.

"As a charity, the RNLI relies on donations to be able to carry out its lifesaving work so a sincere thank you to everyone involved for making the event such a success. Not least, our principal sponsor Ørsted which has a long history of partnership with the RNLI and who we look forward to working with in the years to come."

Ørsted has been a keen supporter of the RNLI for many years – supporting the funding of seven lifeboat stations across the UK and hosting training exercises on its offshore wind farms – and has already pledged to further support the search and rescue service in the Island.

Ørsted Development Director John Galloway added “The rich nautical heritage of the Island cannot be better summed up than the work the RNLI carries out in Manx seas and the countless hours given by dedicated volunteer lifeboat crews in the Island community.

"It is a pleasure to be collaborating the RNLI at such a significant time in its history and where Sir William Hillary’s vision for a dedicated service became a reality. Nearly 200 years later, the commitment of RNLI lifesavers continues, assisted by a community of generous supporters.

"The gala dinner was another shining example of that and a fitting start to the RNLI’s bicentenary celebrations right here in the Isle of Man."