Falmouth Lifeboat Day -15th June 2024

Falmouth RNLI

The RNLI was formed on 4 March 1824 so this year the charity is celebrating 200 years of saving lives at sea. Throughout that time, RNLI lifeboats have been crewed by dedicated volunteers determined to help people in trouble. This wouldn’t have been possible without the volunteer shore crew, fundraisers and, of course, the generosity of the supporters. Together they have helped to save over 146,000 lives.

As part of this celebration, Falmouth RNLI is holding a Lifeboat Day at the station on Saturday 15 June to coincide with Falmouth Classics and the Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival. The open day will include a meeting of former RNLI lifeboats which will be moored alongside for viewing together with the station’s Severn class all-weather lifeboat 17-29 Richard Cox Scott and Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat B-916 Robina Nixon Chard. The lifeboats will also be involved in the Parade of Sail on Sunday 16 June.

Falmouth Lifeboat Station was established in April 1867 in response to a number of shipwrecks that had occurred in the Falmouth area. Falmouth’s first lifeboat The City of Gloucester, a 33-foot self-righting pulling and sailing lifeboat, was paid for from the fundraising efforts of the Gloucester RNLI branch, formed the year before in 1866. The station still has a close association with what has become the Gloucester and Forest of Dean RNLI Fundraising Branch.

In the 157-year history of Falmouth Lifeboat Station, a total of five gallantry medals have been awarded by the RNLI to Falmouth lifeboat volunteers - one silver and four bronze.

The first of these was a silver medal awarded to Coxswain John ‘Janner’ Snell and a bronze medal awarded to Mechanic Charles ‘Chiefy’ Williams for their part in what has been described as one of the finest rescues ever carried out by a Falmouth lifeboat. On 19 January 1940, the fully laden steamer Kirkpool dragged her anchors in a south easterly gale in Falmouth Bay and ran aground off Castle Beach. In very difficult conditions, Coxswain John ‘Janner’ Snell and his crew on Falmouth’s new Watson class lifeboat Crawford and Constance Conybeare, rescued 35 crew members.

An RNLI bronze medal was awarded to Coxswain Walter ‘Wally’ Brown for rescuing eight people from the Swedish sailing vessel Mina off Dodman Point in gale force conditions on 8 August 1972. Wally had only been appointed coxswain the month before.

At 9.45pm on 28 November 1977, the Thames class lifeboat Rotary Service, under the command of Falmouth Coxswain Arthur ‘Toby’ West, launched to take off the crew of the jack-up barge Mer d’Iroise, undertow of the tug Englishman 11 miles east of Lizard Point. The tug master had feared that the barge would capsize in the force 7-8 northeasterly gale conditions. The six-man barge crew were successfully taken off by Coxswain West and his crew after what was later described as a considerable feat of seamanship and determination. Coxswain ‘Toby’ West was awarded the bronze medal for gallantry.

The latest bronze medal to be awarded to a Falmouth Lifeboat volunteer was to Coxswain Mark Pollard for his fortitude, exemplary leadership and outstanding seamanship in the rescue of the 32-metre vessel Galina in November 2005. The Galina, with eight crew on board, had lost all power in storm force conditions 5 miles south east of Dodman Point. With Fowey Lifeboat also on scene, Falmouth lifeboat and her crew managed to prevent the Galina being driven onto the rocks before a salvage tug arrived.

Falmouth has become the busiest lifeboat station in Cornwall and one of the busiest in the south west. In 2023, Falmouth lifeboats launched on service over 100 times, the station’s busiest year on record.

Since being established in 1867 and up to the end of 2023, Falmouth lifeboats have launched a total of 3,173 times saving 439 lives. The number of people aided by Falmouth lifeboat crew members between 1970 (when recording these figures began) and the end of 2023 is 2,715.

Falmouth RNLI Lifeboat Coxswain Jonathon Blakeston said:

‘As this year is the RNLI’s 200th anniversary, we look back and commemorate the station’s past lifesavers as well as celebrating our current volunteers for the time and commitment they give to helping people in difficulty. We hope that their actions will help inspire future generations of volunteers to carry on the tradition of saving lives at sea for the next 200 years.’


The RNLI is the charity that save lives at sea, and relies on your donations.

Falmouth station has a Just Giving page, please visit:







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