News release


The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea

Date: 29/01/2010

Rye Harbour 002 2010


RNLI SOS Day: Rye Harbour volunteer lifeboat crew set-off on their 24 hour tandem marathon

The volunteer lifeboat crew members at Rye Harbour have swapped the seas for the saddle. At midday the wheels rolled and the 24-hour tandem bicycle ride got under way, when the event was started by Carl Bagwell the Harbour Master at Rye. The crew, who regularly go to sea to save lives, have planed the gruelling fundraising attempt to raise money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution's biggest national fundraising day, SOS Day.

The first two volunteers to ride, Jamie Guinn and Trevor Bryant, are both helmsman at Rye Harbour. There are a pool of 21 riders who have signed up for the unusual fundraiser, which will involve riding a tandem bike back and forth between two fixed points on the coast for a whole 24 hours.

Steve Tollett from Rye Harbour RNLI lifeboat station, explained how the fundraising bid came about: 'As volunteers at the sharp end of what the RNLI does, the lifeboat crew members are acutely aware of what dangers people can face out at sea. However, the lifeboats, the equipment and the training that enable them to do it are just the end result - as the RNLI is a charity, saving lives at sea really begins with our fundraising.

'The volunteer crew and fundraisers felt that if we're asking people to support the RNLI on SOS day 2010, then they should set the benchmark, hence they started thinking about what they themselves can do.

'The crew will basically take turns in pairs on a tandem bike to cycle from the current lifeboat station at The Point, down to the Old Mary Stanford lifeboat house, which still stands on the shore - between Rye Harbour and Winchelsea Beach - and back. It's about a four mile round trip.'

In addition, RNLI fundraisers will hold a sponsored walk in Wellington boots, as well as a 'Soup Or Sandwich' lunch on Saturday 30 January. The station is appealing to people to sign up for the welly walk, which ties in with the iconic yellow boots that lifeboat crews wear on rescues.

Steve said the volunteers at Rye Harbour are hoping to raise as much money as possible for the charity, through a variety of methods: 'Firstly the crew will be asking people to sponsor them for doing the tandem ride, seeing as it is going to be somewhat physically challenging! But we're also holding raffles where people can try to predict the number of laps, and guess the total miles covered in the 24 hour period.

There will be an entry fee for the welly walk, but people who obtain sponsorship for doing the walk can participate for free. The soup or sandwiches will be sold at lunchtime.

The Mary Stanford boathouse takes its name from the lifeboat and the disaster that befell her. In 1928, the eponymous lifeboat was launched to assist a vessel, but capsized with the loss of her entire 17-strong crew. The disaster, which is the largest loss of life from a single lifeboat suffered by the RNLI, serves to remind people of the importance of the RNLI and the risks that its volunteers take in order to protect others.'

The crew of Rye Harbour RNLI will begin their tandem ride at midday on SOS Day - Friday 29 January - and will ride throughout the day and night until midday the following day. The Welly Walk will start at 10am on Saturday 30 January and the Soup Or Sandwich lunch will start at midday on the same day. Anyone who wants to support the crew with sponsorship or by taking part in the events should contact Steve or Richard on 01797 223631.

Steve Tollett added: 'We really hope that others across the south east will take inspiration from what we're doing and either plan their own event or take part in one to raise funds for the RNLI's SOS Day.'

For information on what you can do to support the RNLI's SOS Day 2010, log on to

Notes to editors

RNLI media contacts
For more information please contact Steve, RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer at or Tim Ash, Deputy Media Relations Manager South East and London on 07785 296252 or or contact RNLI Public Relations on 01202 336789

RNLI online
For more information on the RNLI please visit News releases and other media resources, including RSS feeds, downloadable photos and video, are available at the RNLI Press Centre

Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 230 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and has more than 100 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 137,000 lives.

A charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SCO37736). Charity number CHY 2678 in the Republic of Ireland