TRIBUTES have been paid to the volunteers at the RNLI as the charity celebrated its 190th birthday.

The life-saving charity was first established on March 4, 1824 and stations up and down the country have been celebrating the anniversary this week.

Grahame Forshaw, Lifeboat Operations Manager in Lyme Regis, said: “The RNLI volunteers in Lyme Regis are proud to continue the tradition of our life-saving charity as it marks its 190th anniversary.

“In a small community like ours, the volunteer crew members, ashore and at sea, play an important part in the life of the town. We have a great mix of youngsters and combined with a number of experienced people from all walks of life it provides for an eclectic mixture of talents.

“I never cease to be amazed at the dedication and commitment of the people who give up their own time to help others in trouble.”

The idea for the charity was first suggested by Sir William Hillary in 1823, after watching people die at sea from shipwrecks off the coast of Isle of Man where he lived. It was first established on March 4, 1824 and given Royal Patronage from George VI.

A lifeboat was first stationed in Lyme Regis just two years later in 1826 called the Thomas Masterman Hardy, but the station and the Lyme Regis branch of the RNLI as we know it today wasn’t introduced to the town until 1861.

Richard Martin, Chief Coastguard for the Maritime and Coastguard agency, said: “I’d like to wish the RNLI a very happy 190th birthday. In my career I’ve worked with countless crews around the UK and found that all those who operate lifeboats do so with the upmost professionalism.

“On behalf of HM Coastguard, the public and of course the maritime community, I would like to thank all the volunteers who man the lifeboats to come to help those in need.”