The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is the largest charity that saves lives at sea around the coasts of the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man as well as on some inland waterways. There are numerous other lifeboat services operating in the same area.
Founded in 1824 as the National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck, the RNLI was granted Royal Charter in 1860 and is a charity in the UK and Republic of Ireland. Queen Elizabeth II is Patron. The RNLI is principally funded by legacies and donations with most lifeboat crew members being unpaid volunteers.
The RNLI has 236 lifeboat stations and operates 444 lifeboats. Crews rescued on average 23 people a day in 2013. RNLI Lifeguards operate on more than 200 beaches. They are paid by local authorities, while the RNLI provides equipment and training. The Institution operates Flood Rescue Teams (FRT) nationally and internationally (iFRT), the latter prepared to travel to emergencies overseas at short notice.
Considerable effort is put into training and education by the Institution, particularly for young people; more than 6,000 children a week are spoken to by education volunteers about sea and beach safety, and over 800 children a week receive training.
The Institution has saved 140,000 lives since its foundation, at a cost of more than 600 lives lost in service.