AS THE RNLI celebrates its 20th anniversary here is the history, and some facts, of the Weston-super-Mare lifeboat station.

Weston-Super-Mare was made an RNLI lifeboat station in 1889 where a lifeboat house and slipway were erected on the small island jutting out from Birnbeck Pier and William Holt II came onto service.

Nowadays, the station houses two all-weather lifeboats the B-Class lifeboat the Douglas Murray, and the D-Class lifeboat the Adrian Beaumont.

Since the station was established, Weston-super-Mare’s volunteer lifeboat crews have launched 2,269 times and have saved 477 lives.

Founded in a London tavern on 4 March 1824 following an appeal from Sir William Hillary, who lived on the Isle of Man and witnessed many shipwrecks, the RNLI has continued saving lives at sea throughout the tests of its history, including tragic

disasters, funding challenges, and two World Wars.  

In total, across the UK and Ireland, 146,452 lives have been saved by the RNLI – this equates to an average of two lives saved every day for 200 years.

The charity has a strong presence in the south west with 33 lifeboat stations and 89 lifeguarded beaches during the summer season.

Lifesavers in the South West have witnessed some of the greatest moments of triumph in the charity’s history including the largest rescue in RNLI history of the liner the Suevic which ran aground off the coast of Cornwall in 1907 in which 456 lives were saved and not a single life lost.

Cornwall also saw the first RNLI gallantry medal for lifeguarding when in 2003, Rod MacDonald was presented with the bravery award for a particularly challenging and selfless rescue of a bodyboarder in Newquay.

Weston Super Mare’s RNLI are also taking part in the town’s Armed Forces and Emergency Services Day which takes place on Sunday 23 June from 10am to 4pm on the Beach Lawns and Sea front.

For the first time, the event will combine the Armed Forces Day celebrations with the Emergency Services Day, recognising the 999 services, which includes the RNLI.

Both of Weston’s RNLI lifeboats will be there and there will be water safety displays and volunteers from the lifeboat, shore, water safety, and fundraising teams.

The day will feature a variety of different events throughout the day.

Highlights include Blitz Time Sally Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Band as well as demonstrations from local emergency services and a sunset remembrance service.

The day will also start with a parade of veterans by the Grand Pier and participants will head towards the Beach Lawns for the opening ceremony.

The event is free to attend and more information about the event can be found at

RNLI lifeguards began patrolling beaches in 2001 and since then lifeguards in the South West have responded to 176,585 incidents saving 1,061 lives.

Lifeguards patrol two beaches in Somerset during season at Burnham-On-Sea and Brean and since they were part of the RNLI lifeguards in the area have aided over 600 people.

The RNLI provides a lifeguard service on behalf of the local authority or private beach owners.

Whilst lifeguards are called upon to rescue people every season the majority of work they do is preventative and if people are heading to coast they ask people to follow the below advice:

• Visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags.  

• Check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage to understand local risks 

• Keep a close eye on your family – on the beach and in the water – don’t allow your family to swim alone

• If you fall into the water unexpectedly, FLOAT TO LIVE. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and float

• In an emergency dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard

Furthermore, RNLI lifeguards now work alongside the RNLI’s water safety team each year to deliver the ‘Meet the Lifeguards’ programme which involves lifeguards going into primary schools to deliver sessions on how to stay safe at the beach.

The sessions are 40 minutes and delivered by trained lifeguards, and children learn the importance of swimming at a lifeguarded beach, what the different flags mean, how to Float to Live if they get into trouble in the water, how to spot and escape a rip current and what to do in an emergency.  

This year was the biggest year of the programme with lifeguards going to over 450 schools across the South West and the Channel Islands.