Sunderland lifeboat volunteers honoured by the Queen

The Sunderland RNLI inshore lifeboat on patrol.
The Sunderland RNLI inshore lifeboat on patrol.
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LIFEBOAT volunteers have been given the royal seal of approval.

The RNLI has been handed the prestigious Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Volunteering Award 2012 in honour of the charity’s hard work and dedication to help save lives at sea.

The national group, which relies on volunteers to carry out its vital work and who form 95 per cent of its workforce, is one of just 60 organisations to receive the one-off award.

The category was added to the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service to mark the Diamond Jubilee and Olympic year.

Paul Nicholson, senior helmsman at Sunderland RNLI, said: “All of the volunteers involved with the operation of our lifeboat station are overjoyed and proud to hear that our charity is being honoured in this way.

“The announcement of the award at this festive time acts as a reminder that while the country celebrated Christmas and New Year, our volunteers remained on alert to respond to their pager at a moment’s notice.”

In a nomination submitted by long-term RNLI supporters actor Timothy Spall and wife Shane, the charity’s volunteers were described as “what is ‘Great’ about Britain”.

Volunteers have been at the heart of the RNLI since its launch in 1824.

Its 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members are on call 24/7, launching whatever the weather and often in the hours of darkness to help those in danger around the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

In addition, volunteer lifeguards work alongside paid lifeguards to help keep beach-users safe and educate those who visit the coast. Specially trained Flood Rescue Teams are also ready to deploy at any time.

Paul Boissier, RNLI chief executive, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to receive this prestigious award, and for our selfless volunteers to be recognised for their commitment and dedication in this Diamond Jubilee year.

“Our volunteers come from all walks of life and are united by one common goal – an unfaltering commitment to help save lives at sea – from the volunteer crews and lifeguards who are at the forefront of rescues to the people who give up their time to raise vital funds.

“I am not only proud to be part of the charity, but inspired by so many ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”

Martyn Lewis, chairman of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Volunteering Award Committee, said: “The 60 organisations honoured with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award for Volunteering have built their success on the dedication and generosity of thousands of extraordinary people, each of whom has devoted their time and energy to the simple aim of making their communities – and their country – a better place.”

RNLI lifeboat crew members and volunteer lifeguard represented the charity at a presentation by the Cabinet Office at Whitehall earlier this month.

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