RNLI One Minute Silence

Event:             Ceremony of Dedication and unveiling* of first RNLI Memorial, marked by one minute silence


Venue:            RNLI HQ, West Quay Road, Poole, Dorset, BH15 1HZ


Date:               Thursday 3 September 2009 12noon – 12.30pm



RNLI calls for one minute silence during memorial unveiling in memory of lost lifesavers  


Throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland, RNLI lifeboat crews and supporters will observe a one minute silence at 12.20pm on Thursday 3 September 2009. The silence is a sign of respect and gratitude to the many people connected with the charity who have lost their lives helping to save others at sea. The silence takes place during the Ceremony of Dedication for the first official RNLI Memorial that will be unveiled by HRH The Duke of Kent at RNLI HQ in Poole, Dorset. 


The 778 people commemorated on the RNLI Memorial come from all corners of the UK and Republic of Ireland. Many of their relatives, friends and closely connected crew members will travel from far and wide to attend the ceremony. The memorial and the one minute silence demonstrate that those named on the memorial will always be remembered.


Members of the public are invited to pay their respects too, by participating in the one minute silence at 12.20pm and/or by adding a tribute to the RNLI Online Book of Commemoration at


As an additional mark of respect, RNLI lifeboat stations and offices throughout the UK and Ireland will lower the RNLI flag to half-mast.


RNLI Chief Executive Andrew Freemantle CBE explains:


‘The RNLI Memorial is a tribute to the many hundreds of people who have given their lives selflessly to save others over the last two hundred years and it will ensure that the sacrifices made by our volunteers, and others, while saving lives at sea are never forgotten. Its location, in front of The Lifeboat College here in Poole, is truly fitting and will inspire generations of lifesavers from all over the British Isles who will train here in the years to come.’


The RNLI Memorial, designed by Sam Holland ARBS stands more than 4.5m in height and is inscribed with the family motto of the RNLI’s founder, Sir William Hillary: ‘with courage, nothing is impossible.’ The sculpture, of a person in a boat saving another from the water, symbolises the history, and future, of the RNLI in its most basic and humanitarian form. The sculpture is positioned on a dark plinth on which flat bands of stainless steel weave. The bands provide both the effect of waves and a material onto which the names of the people who have lost their lives can be engraved – thus becoming an intrinsic part of the memorial.


After the ceremony, the RNLI Memorial will be open to the public and is intended to be accessible at all times to remind all visitors of the extraordinary self-sacrifice of many of the people involved with the charity.


The RNLI is holding its biennial Headquarters Open Days on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 September 2009, offering the public an early opportunity to see the memorial in addition to insights ‘behind the scenes’ of the RNLI.



RNLI Memorial Ceremony of Dedication Programme commencing at 12noon:

  • RNLI President, Admiral The Lord Boyce gives the Speech of Reflection
  • Guest of Honour, HRH The Duke of Kent responds
  • HRH The Duke of Kent unveils the RNLI Memorial
  • Six RNLI volunteers representing the six RNLI operational divisions recite the names of lifeboat stations where there has been loss of life (Scotland, Dunbar Mechanic Kenneth Peters; Ireland, Dun Laoghaire ex-crew member William Scully; West, The Mumbles Deputy Launching Authority Roy Griffiths MBE; North, Humber Superintendent Coxswain David Steenvoorden; South, Lyme Regis Deputy Launching Authority/ex-crew member Garry Gibbs; East, Shoreham Coxswain Peter Huxtable MBE)
  • Lowering of the RNLI flag
  • A one minute silence is observed at 12.20pm
  • Bishop of Sherborne, Dr Graham Kings, conducts the Service of Dedication
  • St Ives Coxswain/Mechanic, Tommy Cocking, the descendant of three men named on the memorial  (great-grandfather and two great-uncles), gives a speech on behalf of all lifeboat crews
  • Speech of Celebration by Admiral The Lord Boyce



The RNLI Heritage Trust was set up in 2004 to preserve the historic objects and archives of the Institution for future generations. Charitable donations to the RNLI must be used for saving lives at sea, so funds for the RNLI Memorial have been raised through the RNLI Heritage Trust. Donations towards the Memorial are welcome and anyone wanting to make a donation should visit


*The unveiling of the memorial is subject to weather conditions. It is possible that the Memorial will have to be uncovered from the morning of the Dedication Ceremony (3 September).



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