Volunteer lifeboat crews are to receive brand new innovative lifejackets and the RNLI is appealing to the general public to dig deep and pledge funds to raise cash needed to fund them.
The charity – which holds its national SOS day on Friday, January 27 – is asking its supporters to hold events that will raise money for the lifejackets on this day.
The lifejackets have been developed over a two-year process with input from volunteers around the coast.
The innovative lifejackets incorporate the latest material technology and were designed through joint collaboration between the RNLI and manufacturer specifically to meet the RNLI’s current search and rescue requirements.
RNLI East divisional inspector Andrew Ashton said: ‘These are cutting-edge lifejackets and are a significant improvement on the current ones for RNLI search and rescue.
“Our volunteers often venture into dangerous and awkward situations and so the RNLI feels responsible to supply lifejackets that will enable them to best cope in every situation.
‘As a life-saving charity, we perform an extremely valuable service – at no cost and we believe that as lifejackets are an essential piece of kit – we hope the general public will recognise this and back us.’
East Anglian crews can expect to receive the new lifejackets from March onwards at a cost of between £2,000-£4,500 at most stations.
There are two different types of lifejackets – one for all-weather crew and one for inshore crew. Both types of lifejackets will provide increased safety for all sizes and shapes of crew members and a secure fit leading to increased efficiency and effectiveness in lifesaving.
They are fitted with crotch straps, preventing the lifejacket from riding up over the crew member’s head when in the water and an integrated harness designed to pull the lifejacket from the wearer’s neck, providing greater freedom of movement when rescuing those in trouble.
In 1854 an RNLI inspector called Captain Ward designed a lifejacket made of cork. Famously the sole survivor of Whitby’s lifeboat which capsized on service in 1861 was Henry Freeman, the only one wearing a cork lifejacket, who went on to become the Whitby Coxswain .
Some of the RNLI’s branches and fundraising guilds are organising their own events to raise money for the lifejackets. To donate or get involved in the RNLI’s national fundraising day please contact the London Regional Office on 0207 620 7400 or visit .