Those who go down to the sea to help others
The Duke of Kent has unveiled the first RNLI memorial to lost lifesavers as throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland, RNLI lifeboat crews and supporters observed a one minute silence as a mark 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 took place during the Ceremony of Dedication for the first official RNLI Memorial, which was 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 travelled from far and wide to attend the ceremony. The memorial ensures that those whose names it bears will always be remembered.
As an additional mark of respect, RNLI lifeboat stations, lifeguard units and offices throughout the UK and Ireland lowered their RNLI flags to half-mast during the ceremony. Members of the public can pay their respects too, by adding a tribute to the RNLI Online Book of Commemoration at www.rnli.org.uk/commemorate.
The RNLI Memorial, designed by Sam Holland ARBS, stands more than 4.5m in height and depicts a person in a boat saving another from the water, symbolising 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.
The RNLI Memorial is now 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.