As members of a coastal community, we have always admired the incredible work of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and their dedicated volunteers. The RNLI is a charity that provides 24/7 lifesaving services, including search and rescue operations, to those in need on the coasts of the UK and Ireland. Here at Walker Construction we are delighted to announce that we have been contracted to build a new state-of-the-art
lifeboat station at Dover Docks.
Members of our team were very kindly invited to join the voluntary crew early on Easter Sunday for a foggy trip to sea. Read on to hear about their experience.
Introduction to the RNLI and lifeboats
The RNLI was founded in 1824 and has since saved over 143,000 lives. The charity is funded entirely by donations from the public and has over 238 lifeboat stations across the UK and Ireland. The RNLI's lifeboats are designed to operate in all weather conditions and are crewed by highly trained volunteers who are on call 24/7.
The role of a lifeboat station and its crew
Every lifeboat station has a dedicated crew of volunteers who are responsible for maintaining the station, its equipment, and the lifeboats. The crew is highly trained in sea survival, navigation, and first aid to ensure they are prepared for any situation they may encounter. They are also responsible for launching the lifeboat in response to a call for help and for carrying out search and rescue operations.
Lifeboat station construction and the process of building a new station
The RNLI carefully selects the location of the new station based on the needs of the local community and the surrounding coastline. The design of the station is also carefully considered to ensure it is fit for purpose and can withstand the harsh coastal environment.
Once the design has been approved, the construction process can begin. We are working closely with the RNLI team to ensure the station is built to the highest standards and within budget.
The new station will be constructed using a Glulam Timber Frame, Envelope Staffordshire- Blue Bricks and Timber Larch cladding. With the station having a contemporary style fit out for the RNLI offices and changing rooms. The station even comes with a gift store and area for visitor engagement!
A sustainable project too, with reusable energy at its core. The station’s U-V panels and ground source heating will help to make the building not only visually stunning, but environmentally friendly.
A morning at sea with the RNLI
Some members of our team had the privilege of working with the RNLI as volunteer crew members on Easter Sunday.
As the team drew closer to the docks a thick mist appeared. Hopes for Instagram-able sunrise pics faded as our four team members were taken in for their safety brief at the current lifeboat station. A friendly crew of volunteers greeted our team. There were forms, and weather updates given, then the sudden sound of a familiar tune broke out. “Happy Birthday!” It was one of the volunteers 21st Birthday. It didn’t take long for our team to realise the twenty-one-year-old was choosing to spend his birthday on-call, ready to save lives!
Once the birthday cake had been cut and life jackets were secured, the team were ready to set sail. Guided down the staircase, along the pontoon, and helped onto the boat by the volunteer crew, our team were raring to get to sea. The crew bustled onboard, busy with their tasks.
“We heard inspiring stories from all the crew members. We watched and listened as these incredible people showed us what they do best. The volunteers are highly trained and dedicated individuals who put their lives on the line to save others, it’s tremendous. We’re looking forward to delivering this project for this remarkable team” – Martin Watts, Southern Construction Director.
A few minutes into the journey the team were invited up to the top deck, void of views (thanks to the fog), but the eerie atmosphere gave context to the outstanding work of the volunteers. No matter the weather, the crew are prepared to risk their own lives to save others.
The team were given the opportunity to steer the ship. Being taught how to manoeuvre the boat, how the machinery and tech works. The crew gave a grand tour, who were shown around the whole boat, of which we’ve been told there’s a lot of! Described in one word by our team – a “Tardis”.
“The experience was incredibly rewarding, and I learnt so much about the importance of teamwork, dedication, and the power of community. We were impressed by the volunteer’s dedication and selflessness” – Phil Webb, Managing Director.
The impact of the RNLI's work on coastal communities
The work of the RNLI has a significant impact on coastal communities across the UK and Ireland. Their lifesaving services provide peace of mind to those who live and work on the coast, knowing that if they get into trouble, the RNLI is there to help.
The RNLI's work also extends beyond their lifesaving services. They provide education and safety awareness programs to schools and community groups, ensuring that people are aware of the risks associated with the sea and how to stay safe. This work will be supported by the new visitor engagement area we are constructing at Dover.
How to get involved with the RNLI and support their efforts
The RNLI relies entirely on donations from the public to fund their lifesaving services. There are several ways that you can get involved and support their efforts, including volunteering at a local lifeboat station, fundraising, and making a donation.
Volunteering with the RNLI is an incredibly rewarding experience and provides an opportunity to give back to your local community. Fundraising is also an effective way to support the RNLI, and there are several events and campaigns throughout the year that you can get involved with.
The importance of supporting charities like the RNLI
Spending the morning with the RNLI was an incredible experience that showed us the incredible impact the RNLI have on our communities. Their lifesaving services provide peace of mind to those who live and work on the coast, knowing that if they get into trouble, the RNLI is there to help.