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Civil Service 53 to Launch, Marking 150 years of Fundraising

Clare Parker
Tuesday 1 May 2018

Civil Servants from across the UK have completed their outstanding quest to raise £1.1m for Civil Service Lifeboat Number 53.

Celebrating 150 years of fundraising, the Lifeboat Fund set the ambitious target for a state of the art Shannon Class lifeboat, which will be stationed at Wells-Next-The-Sea in Norfolk. Moreover, the Lifeboat Fund is contributing £100,000 on top of the £1.1M they have already raised for the shoreworks at RNLI Wells which will house the new Shannon Class.

Starting in 2015, fundraisers from a host of government departments organised events from cake sales to abseiling, epic cycle rides to long distance hikes, golf events and, presentations at Civil Service Live.  

Former Vice Patron of the Lifeboat Fund, Admiral (retired) Sir George Zambellas, also worked with Ministry of Defence fundraisers to secure £400,000 from the Chancellor of the Exchequers’ London Interbank Operating Rate fund. Thanks to the valiant efforts of Lifeboat Fund fundraisers, this was transferred in 2016.

A new tradition of calendars headlined the Christmas events. Developed by James Hennessey from Defence Equipment and Support, they consisted of underwater wildlife images courtesy of the Clifton Sub Aqua Club.

Other notable events included two teams taking part in the overnight “Wolf Pack” race from London to Cardiff, which raised over £12,000, and an evening event on the River Thames at HMS PRESIDENT that raised over £1000. These were part of the new competitive spirit around RNLI May Day which saw departments go head to head to see who could raise the most money. The Home Office took the crown for 2017. Who will take the 2018 crown?!

In its 10th anniversary year, Transport Scotland adopted the Lifeboat Fund as its charity, and raised over £7000 with events such as a Staff Stomp and dragon boat racing. 

And there were on-going donations from the FCO “Tuck Shop” and from the Civil Service “Etcetera” Choir. Even the FCO’s (arguably) most famous resident, Palmerstone, got in on the act and raised the profile of the Lifeboat Fund across the world.

The appeal took an unexpected turn in late 2017 as The Lifeboat received an incredible gift. Miss Louene Smith left a legacy of £445,000 which will be used to fund the shore works for the Shannon Class at Wells and help fund the Lifeboat Fund’s next appeal from 2018.

Sir Mark Sedwill, Chair of the Lifeboat Fund, said:


“This is a fantastic achievement which would not have been possible without the support of the Lifeboat Fund’s valiant fundraisers and supporters. Their valiant effort ensured the £400,000 matched funding that was secured from the Chancellor of the Exchequers’ London Interbank Operating Rate (LIBOR) fund was transferred in 2016. 

In particular, I would like to thank the generosity of Miss Louene Smith who gifted a substantial legacy. This will be used to complete the fund for the Shannon class Lifeboat, allow us to contribute to the shore works at Wells where Civil Service 53 will be housed, and give us the base funding for our next appeal, which will focus on Swim Safe and RNLI Lifeguards. I would also like to thank former First Sea Lord and Vice Patron of the Lifeboat Fund, Admiral (retired) Sir George Zambellas for his personal leadership in securing LIBOR funds for the appeal.”

 Chris Hardy, RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager at Wells Lifeboat Station, said:

“On behalf of the crew and all the volunteers here at Wells Lifeboat Station I would like to say a very big 'thank you'. We are all delighted that The Lifeboat Fund has managed to raise this considerable sum of money for our new Shannon lifeboat and boathouse.  We have enjoyed meeting some of the trustees and fundraisers during the fundraising campaign and we know how hard everyone has worked to help us to get our new lifeboat. We expect building will start on our new boathouse very soon and that our Shannon Lifeboat, Civil Service 53, will be on station by 2020.”

The Lifeboat Fund continues into 2018. The focus of the appeal switches from a boat to education as it supports the RNLI’s Swim Safe campaign, which gives young people free swimming lessons, and Lifeguards on the beaches across the UK. 

If you would like to get involved with the Lifeboat Fund, contact Tom Hill, Honorary Secretary of the Lifeboat Fund at