Hitchin and district branch of RNLI raises staggering £17,988 for heroes who help those in peril on our seas

RNLI fundraising manager Terry James, branch chairman John Pearce and branch president Richard Cox.

RNLI fundraising manager Terry James, branch chairman John Pearce and branch president Richard Cox. - Credit: Archant

A much-loved charity that saves countless lives at sea has seen its branch covering Hitchin, Stevenage, Letchworth and Baldock break records for its impressive fundraising.

The Hitchin & District branch of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution raised a staggering £17,988 for the cause through its efforts during 2016.

The awe-inspiring amount was the highest figure collected by the branch since its creation more than three decades ago – with the group raising more than £72,600 for the RNLI over the last five years.

The money will go to RNLI funds in general, as well as directly supporting the Tower Lifeboat Station on the Thames in London and Cromer Lifeboat Station on the Norfolk coast.

The amount was announced at the branch annual meeting at the Sun Hotel in Hitchin’s Sun Street, with chairman John Pearce offering a very good explanation as to why their particular branch has raised so much money for such a worthwhile cause.

He explained: “As we are nowhere near the sea, the question I am most frequently asked is why Hitchin and District?

“Well, if we look at a map of lifeboat rescues across the UK, not surprisingly the majority are around the coast.

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“However, if we look at where the people who are rescued actually live, then we find the majority come from places such as Hitchin and many ojther places in and around North Herts.

“In addition, Tower Lifeboat Station is the busiest in the country – which is based just 35 miles from Hitchin.

“As well as the lifeboat search and rescue operation, the RNLI provides seasonal lifeguards on more than 200 beaches, again holiday destinations for many residents from North Herts – with the Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex coastlines within easy reach of people in this area.”

Mr Pearce’s insight is another reason the North Herts branch is booming. Last year its membership exceeded 200 for the first time since it was formed in 1982.

Mr Pearce also noted that in 2015 the RNLI recorded 8,228 lifeboat launches, with lifeguards attending 15,714 incidents – which led to 442 lives being saved.

It costs around £460,000 every day to run the RNLI – all funded by the public, as the charity receives no money from the government.

To donate or volunteer, call Mr Pearce on 07545 003 792, email pearcej53@virginmedia.com or have a look at facebook.com/HitchinRNLI

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