In our lives we are infrequently confronted with those who are deemed to be heroes – men & women who have through demonstrable valour, at the risk of life and injury, have conducted deeds that we common folk fear that our personal courage would have failed us miserably, don’t we? These individuals get rightful recognition, often medals, civic honours, and utter respect from our society for their deeds. Sometimes we see such moral & fearless fortitude from those involved in areas of conflict, like the armed forces, where they put their lives on the line to achieve a military objective, but very and more often to protect their own comrades. Others, in say civilian life, are faced with a single often unique situation, where their superior guts kick-in to make a massive difference to the circumstances they face. They are all rightly lauded.
There are however another quite different band of people around, who for the most part go generally unnoticed by us all, until they sacrifice their lives that is of course, isn’t it (some six hundred of them)? These are for sure the amazing people who man our coastline lifeboats and have been doing so for some two hundred years. These are experienced seafarers, who know the sea well, who know to fear the sea unreservedly, who know the overwhelming power of the sea, who know & fully understand that the sea will do for them if given the chance. Yet they put to sea in the most dreadful of weather conditions and the wildest of situations to face the evil intent of the ocean and the storms raging over it.
Why for god’s sake do they, as intelligent sea people, do such a seemingly stupid & foolhardy thing? Well, they do it, don’t they, because they are people of immense courage, who know that it is only by risking their own safety, and indeed lives, that they can help, and what’s more save, the other soles of men, women & children, out there on the sea, in utter distress who are often about to perish – a couple of hundred thousand of them?
Oh yes, there have been many thousands of medals awarded for their bravery, but those who man the lifeboats are not the thrill seekers of the world, nor the gambling risk takers, nor the glory merchants, nor the rich & famous, nor those without families and responsibilities. No they are ordinary hard working people, unpaid volunteers no less, but extraordinary people as well, you will agree?
Anybody who has had the chance to travel parts of the British coastline will have come across, now and again, small well tended memorials in various remote places, recording the sacrificed lives of local lifeboat crews who have perished with their craft in a vain attempt to rescue others. Many a casual visitor on reading the short account of the tragedy there, has shed a tear in remembrance of those who had sacrificed their lives and bereaved their families & loved ones.
[There are nearly two hundred and fifty lifeboat stations with somewhere under five hundred lifeboats serving the UK’s coastline. The four and a half thousand crew members are supported by nearly as many on shore volunteers, so it all needs a lot of money to keep it all going (£150million indeed) = so if you see a RNLI collection box, and can spare a few coins, do so in recognition of these wonderfully brave men & women, wont you?].