The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a charity and charges with saving lives at sea. It places lifeboats in strategic positions and where crews are available. It supplies and maintains the boats and the crew training. That in short is their commitment. The locality provides the crews. Over time the motto “Drown you may but go you must” has become an unofficial mission statement for Lifeboat Crews. That is their commitment. The most westerly station in the RNLI lifeboat network is at Valentia Island. Here – in the most Westerly harbour in Europe.
Valentia Lifeboat while at her moorings is already further out in the Atlantic than any other boat in the fleet.
A lifeboat station was first established on the mainland at Renard in 1864, but closed in 1896. It was not re-opened until 1939, and only then on a temporary basis, on Valentia Island. Valentia Lifeboat Station was reopened on a permanent basis in 1946, and has been open for nearly 70 years. The common denominator over those years is ordinary folk, volunteers, walking into the lifeboat station when a crew is needed and saying “I’ll Go”. The crew at Valentia have been called some 776 times between 1946 and the end of 2009.
Lifeboats that served at Valentia Island are:
Official No Name Term Launches Lives Saved (None) Mary 1864-80 6 Nil
(None) Crosby Leonard 1880-90 Nil Nil
174 Crosby Leonard 1890-96 4 Nil
690 C&S 1946-47 2 Nil
687 BASP 1947-51 14 2
717 AED 1951-57 57 80
938 Rowland Watts 1957-83 158 132
1082 Margaret Frances Love 1983-96 192 73
1218 John & Margaret Doig 1996 – present
The full story of Valentia Lifeboat is told in “Valentia Lifeboats, A History” by Dick Robinson and published in 2011 by The History Press Ireland.[/two_third][one_third_last]