RNLI 200 Voices podcast launch including tales from Thanet lifeboat historian John Ray and crew member Guy Addington

Ramsgate and Margate RNLI crews on exercise Image by Watch and Shoot

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s (RNLI) new 200 Voices podcast launches today (August 18) and, in the run-up to the charity’s bicentenary on 4 March 2024, an episode will be released every day for 200 days, exploring captivating stories from the charity’s history and through to the current day.

The charity has been saving lives at sea since it was founded in 1824 and, in that time, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 144,000 lives. Funded by voluntary donations, and with lifeboats crewed by specially-trained volunteers, the RNLI is a rescue organisation with a remarkable 200-year story to tell – many highlights of which are shared through the podcast series.

Available across all podcast platforms and the RNLI’s website, listeners can hear from survivors, supporters, volunteers, lifeguards, celebrity ambassadors, historians and many more from across the UK and Ireland – and beyond.

The series will hear from celebrity ambassadors such as The Sixth Commandment actor Timothy Spall, Gavin and Stacey actress Ruth Jones, Irish musician Phil Coulter, gold medal Olympian Sir Ben Ainslie and BAFTA-winning actress Joanna Scanlan who is supporting the RNLI’s Omaze campaign.

John Ray

Thanet episodes include Lifesaving in wartime, scheduled for September, with Thanet RNLI historian John Ray on the Ramsgate crew who braved bombs and bullets at Dunkirk.

Following a successful local history day at Ramsgate Tunnels earlier this year John will also be at the local history day at the Powell-Cotton Museum in Birchington on Saturday 30th. September. A number of representatives from a variety of local history groups will be there and he will have artefacts relating to both the Dunkirk Evacuation and earlier rescues for the public to see and discuss.

Also appearing in November will be Margate’s Guy Addington (pictured) with Guy on a mission, Around 140 people drown in waters around Britain and Ireland every year. Guy explains why that number is too high and what’s being done about it.

More Kent stories feature with Jim Moir, aka Vic Reeves, on the perils of the sea – and Charcoal. The Deal resident and supporter of the Walmer station is exhibiting in Cornwall.

The day the RNLI rescued pirates: Former Radio Caroline DJ Nick Richards of Sheerness reflects on the event that inspired a lifelong affinity with the charity. The ship had broken away from its moorings near Southend

Each boat in the RNLI ‘s historic collection at Chatham has a story to tell and Paul Severns, the man who ensures all their stories aren’t lost to time and tide.

The podcast series will also hear from people whose lives have been touched by the lifesaving charity, including Milena Smith, whose daughter Mabel was rescued by Barmouth lifeboat volunteers; Radio Caroline DJ, Nick Richards, who stuck with the pirate radio ship until its last moments and Niamh Fitzpatrick, whose sister Dara tragically lost her life in the 2017 Irish Coast Guard Rescue helicopter 116 crash.

Timothy Spall

RNLI Strategic Content Manager, Rory Stamp said: “We knew we had to do something really special to mark the RNLI’s 200th anniversary, which is such a monumental milestone.

“200 Voices is an incredible collection of stories that are emotive, powerful, inspiring and heart-warming. The series gives us a chance to hear from a whole variety of amazing people who have played a part in or been touched by our lifesaving charity.

“200 Voices is the first in a programme of activity planned to mark the RNLI’s bicentenary as we celebrate the world-class lifesaving service we provide today, remember our remarkable history and aim to inspire the future generations of lifesavers and supporters as we move through into the next 200 years.”

Listen to the RNLI’s 200 Voices daily, launching on Friday 18 August, wherever you get your podcasts or at RNLI.org/200Voices.

To find out more about the RNLI’s bicentenary, visit RNLI.org/200.