The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. For nearly two hundred years its volunteers have shown courage and selflessness in facing storm and shipwreck to offer assistance. Never taken for granted, these qualities of service transcend the centuries to ring as true now as in the earliest days of the lifeboats. This unprecedented new book is a photographic celebration of every-day bravery, compassion, and outstanding commitment in the toughest of conditions. From the Cornish coasts to the Shetland Isles, we join crewman and photographer Nigel Millard as he travels the length of Britain and Ireland, living and working with his fellow lifeboatmen and accompanying them on their rescue missions. In 2011 alone some 7,976 people were saved by lifeboat crews and a further 17,670 were assisted by the service's new lifeguard units, with lifeboats launching on average almost 20 times a day. This book honours the dedication of generations of hard-working people who generously give their time to those in danger and their families who wait for news while the lifeboats are out a visual tribute to the sea and those who go to it.
All around our coasts, and every day of the year, the men and women of the RNLI are on duty's call. Though the RNLI has evolved, through its technologies and size of organisation, its sense of purpose and vision, to end preventable loss of life at sea, is as clear as it was in the very beginning. This is a simple story of a voluntary rescue service, of men and women happy to race to the assistance of strangers at all hours of day or night should ever the need arise. We hope these photographs show something of this spirit. We are encouraged never to forget the bravery, skill and sacrifice of the people of the RNLI. They are heroes all.
Nigel Millard is a lifeboat crewmember and an award-winning international photographer. He is best known for his ongoing commissions for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, for his special issue Royal Mail stamps, and for promoting safety at sea with the Fishing Safety campaign. He has been working with the RNLI now for almost a decade. In 2010 Nigel was awarded the Individual Award for his continued support of the service. Dr Huw Lewis-Jones is a historian of exploration and art director with a PhD from the University of Cambridge. Formerly a Curator at the National Maritime Museum and the Scott Polar Research Institute, Huw now writes and lectures widely about exploration and the visual arts.