As the RNLI prepares to mark its 200th anniversary this Monday, we begin a new feature visiting some of Cornwall’s lifeboat stations and the hardworking volunteers behind them.

First up is Falmouth RNLI, which has now been in existence for almost 140 years.

Here, trainee lifeboat press officer Glen Reed tells us more…

Falmouth RNLI station was established in 1867, 43 years after the formation of the charity, following a successful fundraising effort by the RNLI Gloucester branch. Within one year it had raised enough money to purchase a new self-righting , pulling and sailing lifeboat, The City of Gloucester, to be put on station at Falmouth, at a cost of £420.

The City of Gloucester served at the station for 20 years during which time she was launched on service ten times.

She was followed by 12 further station boats, each being more technically advanced than its predecessor, ending in today’s £2 million, 17 metre Severn Class lifeboat Richard Cox Scott, capable of 25 knots with a range of 250 nautical miles.

Richard Cox Scott arrived in Falmouth in 2001 and was formally named by HM the Queen in her Golden Jubilee year 2002.

Falmouth Packet: Falmouth's all-weather lifeboatFalmouth's all-weather lifeboat (Image: Simon Culliford/RNLI)

The station received its first inshore lifeboat in 1980 and now has an Atlantic 85 lifeboat Robina Nixon Chard, capable of 35 knots.

The station’s current Coxswain is Jon Blakeston, who joined as a trainee in 1990, becoming full time mechanic in 2013 and coxswain in 2015; he is the station’s 18th coxswain.

Former crew member Dianne Bush, on moving to RNLI Harwich, became the charity’s first full-time female coxswain. Today Tamara Brookes is Falmouth’s only female inshore lifeboat helm.

The station was initially established in the docks, moving to North Quay in the 1950s where it remained until the new boathouse, adjacent to County Wharf, was opened in 1993. This houses the inshore lifeboat, crew room and shop, with the all-weather lifeboat now berthed alongside on a purpose-built pontoon.

The shop moved to a prime location in Arwennack Street last year.

Falmouth Packet: Falmouth's inshore lifeboatFalmouth's inshore lifeboat (Image: Simon Culliford/RNLI)

The station currently has 26 volunteer crew members, to ensure that both lifeboats are always available 24/7 when the pagers go off.

The all-weather lifeboat has a volunteer crew of seven, plus a doctor if required, with the inshore lifeboat having a crew of four.

The station also has a large number of volunteers to support the crew and station, including shore crew, shop staff, sea safety advisors, fundraisers, boat guides and operational support staff.

The station crew have been awarded four bronze medals and one silver medal for gallantry in its 157-year history.

Falmouth Packet: The crew and volunteers of Falmouth RNLI in 2024The crew and volunteers of Falmouth RNLI in 2024 (Image: Simon Culliford/RNLI)

Last year saw the station’s busiest year to date, with a total of 118 services - 30 for the all-weather boat and 88 for the inshore boat.

From January 1, 1980 to December 31, 2023, the station’s all-weather lifeboat has launched 943 times, with the inshore lifeboat launching 1,871 times.

The station will be holding an open day on June 15, during Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival and Falmouth Classics weekend, which will include an historic lifeboat rally on June 16. More information will be released closer to the date.