FUNDRAISERS from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution's (RNLI) Basingstoke branch celebrated 200 years of the charity by being involved in a unique relay-style event. 

On Tuesday, March 19, took part in the RNLI’s ‘Connecting our Communities’ event which sees a scroll, bearing the RNLI pledge, being passed through RNLI communities including lifeboat stations, lifeguard units and fundraising branches around the UK and Ireland, before being signed by representatives at each location on its route. 

Gathering at the home of Paul and Shirley Harwood the scroll was signed by Paul on behalf of all members of the Basingstoke branch.

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Basingstoke Gazette: Basingstoke branch of the RNLIBasingstoke branch of the RNLI (Image: Newsquest)

Becky Nelson, who leads the Connecting our Communities programme, said: “We were so delighted to bring the scroll to members of this wonderful inland fundraising branch who do so much to raise both funds and awareness, so that the RNLI can continue its vital mission of saving lives and preventing drowning.

"Whilst people often think of the coast when they think of the RNLI, they are often unaware of the great work that takes place actually quite far from the sea, from people like our incredible team at Basingstoke.”

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Over the course of seven months, the five-metre-long scroll will pass through 240 RNLI locations around the UK and Ireland before finishing its journey in October at Douglas on the Isle of Man, which was home to the RNLI’s founder, Sir William Hillary. By this time it will carry over 700 signatures.

The scroll began its journey on Monday, March 4, at a Service of Thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey to mark the charity’s official 200th anniversary, where it was signed by RNLI President, HRH The Duke of Kent, as well as the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Dean of Westminster, the RNLI’s Chair and the RNLI’s Chief Executive.

RNLI associate director, Anjie Rook, said: "The Connecting our Communities relay is one of the most significant events of the RNLI’s 200 year anniversary year as it’s all about our people.

"For 200 years, it is people who have made the RNLI what it is, from our brave lifesavers who risk their lives to save others, to the committed fundraisers and generous donors who fund our lifesaving work.

"We asked our communities to express interest in participating in this event and we have been overwhelmed by the response – we’re thrilled to have representation from our stations, lifeguard units and fundraising branches across the UK and Ireland.

"Everything about the scroll, from the design and materials, to the wording printed on it and the locations it’s travelling to reflects the communities we serve.

"By the end of the relay we will have an important document which will become part of the charity’s history and a significant snapshot of the charity as it stands at 200 years old."

Ford is providing an electric zero-emission van to transport the scroll on its journey. When the seven-month-long journey is complete, the scroll will be displayed in the RNLI College in Poole, where the charity’s lifeboat crews and lifeguards are trained.

Founded on March 4, 1824 following an appeal from Sir William Hillary, who lived on the Isle of Man and witnessed many shipwrecks, the RNLI has been saving lives at sea for 200 years.

Since the charity was founded, the charity’s lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 146,000 lives.

While much has changed in 200 years, two things have remained the same. The charity’s dependence on volunteers, who give their time and commitment to save others, and the voluntary contributions from the public which has funded the service for the past two centuries.