RNLI's Tynemouth team celebrate 200 years of the charity saving lives at sea

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The charity marked its 200th anniversary this week.

On Monday, March 4 eagle eyed Tyneside residents may have seen or heard celebrations at the eastern end of the River Tyne.

As part of the event, RNLI Tynemouth's main boat travelled down the river to be saluted by nearby boats to celebrate 200 years of the RNLI.

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"Joining is one of the best things I ever did" explained crew member and mechanic George William.

"There is a mass of opportunities available" he explains, having spent six years with the charity which saves lives at sea.

The crew member owes a lot to the charity as it has supported him through his full time role too: "I'm a paramedic and I don't think I would have been if it wasn't for the RNLI."

The team at RNLI's Tynemouth stationThe team at RNLI's Tynemouth station
The team at RNLI's Tynemouth station

Each of the team has their own jobs away from the charity, with many needing to be able to drop everything at a moment's notice to support anyone at sea.

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"A lot of the training we do is on an evening or a weekend, outside of work hours" explains James Waters, another crew member and product manager at a software company.

"Call outs happen at any time. It could be that I'm in the middle of a work call, the pager goes and I need to hand down my work and do whatever is required by the coastguard" he explains.

"When the pager goes your mindset switches straight away. Your training kicks in, you very much switch out into it.

"You can be sat listening at night and hear the wind whistling through the house and then the pager will go and you'll think 'I've got to go out in that!' but you have full trust in the equipment."

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"There has been a few times he's needed to leave meetings in the middle of the day" adds Cameron Smith, James' co-worker.

"The team are fully aware of the job he has on the side, and it may be a side job for him but it's very important and everyone who's aware looks to support James" he adds.

The station on North Shields' Fish Quay is home to two boats, a D Class which can carry three crew members and is more like a dinghy in addition to the Severn All Weather lifeboat which can often be seen docked by the mouth of the Tyne.

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RNLB Osier at the RNLI's Tynemouth stationRNLB Osier at the RNLI's Tynemouth station
RNLB Osier at the RNLI's Tynemouth station

The charity would not be able to run without a huge fundraising effort from teams across the nation, including people like local resident Sheila Carr.

"I'm North Shields born and bred, from a seafaring family. We really value the RNLI" she explains.

The RNLI's Tynemouth stationThe RNLI's Tynemouth station
The RNLI's Tynemouth station

She adds: "The community are so supportive because everyone knows someone who has been involved at sea and everyone really values what the RNLI do."

"The local community are so generous. I'm retired so for me the sky's the limit!"

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The Tyne Lifeboat Society, formed in 1790, remained independent of the RNLI, but in 1862 the Institution established its own station at Tynemouth.  The station was destroyed during World War II in April 1941 but was reopened six months later.

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