With the RNLI marking its 200th anniversary in March this year, the charity has launched a special range of products celebrating key moments in its history – all of which raise funds to support its work.
The range includes clothing, toys, gifts and collectables, which the charity says are designed to help supporters feel part of the crew in its 200th year. It takes its inspiration from promotional materials produced for RNLI’s well-known Lifeboat Saturday fundraising event, and all profits from sales will help the charity’s work.
In 1886, 27 lifeboat crew from Southport and St Anne’s lost their lives during a rescue attempt – still the largest loss of crew in a single incident in RNLI history. Five years later, wealthy industrialist Sir Charles Macara and his wife Marion, still concerned for the crew’s families, organised the first Lifeboat Saturday – the world’s first recorded charity street collection. The event saw bands, floats and even a full-sized lifeboat paraded through the streets of Manchester, and quickly spread to other towns, and is credited with forming the basis of charity collecting that continues today.
The new Lifeboat Saturday range includes t-shirts for both men and women, scarf, tote bag and more, all featuring a print inspired by the designs used for the posters and programmes that promoted this event.
The RNLI’s maritime history is also reflected in the new range, with the traditional cork lifejacket featured in a t-shirt design, and worn by collectable ducks and teddy bears. The original cork lifejacket saved the lives of hundreds of volunteer crew in the early days of the RNLI. This included Whitby crew member Henry Freeman, who in 1861 was the only survivor of a disaster that claimed the lives of all his fellow crew members during a great storm, as he was the only one wearing the newly designed lifejacket. He went on to serve as Coxswain of the Whitby lifeboat for 22 years.
Other products in the range feature both the original and current RNLI flag design, from t-shirts to mugs, badges and playing cards. There is also a vintage style money box.
The 200th anniversary range is available at all RNLI shops, and online at the RNLI shop website.