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RNLI Ramsgate Lifeboat

Home / About Ramsgate / News / RNLI Ramsgate Lifeboat

12 October 2020

RNLI Coxswain 04.09.2020
Ramsgate Royal Harbour has had a lifeboat on station since 1802, originally provided by the Ramsgate Harbour Board of Commissioners. The RNLI became involved in 1865 when they provided the boat and crew, and jointly ran the station with the Board of Trade who provided a steam tug kept in a constant state of readiness.

This combination worked well with the tug often towing the ‘pulling and sailing’ lifeboat to the vicinity of a casualty and then towing it back to Ramsgate after the rescue. This was demonstrated in January 1881 when a 26-hour long rescue took place during a storm to save the 12 crew of the vessel ‘Indian Chief’.

In 1926, the arrival of the motor driven ‘Prudential’ lifeboat, financed by the Prudential Insurance Co., heralded a new era superseding the steam tug.

In the Second World War, many RNLI lifeboats were requisitioned by the Royal Navy to take part in the 1940 Dunkirk evacuation. Unusually Margate’s Lifeboat ‘Lord Southborough’, and Ramsgate’s ‘Prudential’ went with their own regular crews, with Ramsgate lifeboat being credited with rescuing 2,800 men from the beaches. Ramsgate and Margate Coxswains Howard Knight and Edward Parker were both awarded the Distinguished Service Order for their service during the evacuation.

There is a connection to our current crew even to this day as our Coxswain Ian Cannon’s great, great Uncle, Alf Moody, was part of the ‘Prudential’ crew. The tradition of serving in the RNLI runs deep in the Cannon family. Currently there are three members of the family involved with the RNLI Ramsgate Lifeboat: Coxswain - Ian Cannon, his brother Deputy Coxswain - Paul Cannon and Ian’s daughter, crew member - Becky Cannon. They are following in the footsteps of Ian and Paul’s grandfather, Bob, and their father, Ron, who also served with the RNLI in Ramsgate with distinction.

During the latter half of the 20th Century the RNLI had to adapt to meet the changing needs of society. Inshore lifeboats were introduced in the 1960s and the innovative fully self-righting, all-weather fleet was introduced in the early 1970s. The RNLI’s current aim is to have an all-weather fleet that is capable of a speed of at least 25 knots, like the current Ramsgate Trent class lifeboat ‘Esme Anderson’.

It’s not just the Lifeboats that have adapted. The days of an all-male crew drawn from the fishing boats have long gone and currently we have five women on our volunteer crew. Our crew come from all walks of life with nationality and ethnicity being no barrier to being a crew member. As well as there still being fishermen in the crew, there are now pilot boat and windfarm boat crew along with a teacher, diver, pub landlord, estate agent and a furniture maker, to name but a few. The common denominator is their willingness to put their lives at risk to save others at sea.

The calls for help are many and varied. On average we get about 70 callouts each year and these range from people cut off by the rising tide, to swimmers or wind surfers in trouble to yachts and motor cruisers and, yes, even fishing boats. Whatever the problem our crews will run to the boat to get help to wherever it is needed as quickly as possible.

The RNLI is funded entirely by public donations. All crew, management teams and fundraisers are volunteers with the exception of the Mechanic, and in some cases at busy stations, like Ramsgate, the Coxswain, who are salaried. The RNLI’s lifeboat service nationally costs just short of £497,000 per day to run and all this money comes from donations, legacies, souvenir sales and fundraising efforts.

The RNLI Ramsgate Lifeboat Fundraising Branch is a very enthusiastic group of volunteers with the sole aim of raising funds for the RNLI. Collections and other fundraising events are held throughout the year and we always support the national RNLI campaigns such as Mayday and the Fish Supper by running special events. Information tables are at most of the events, where the Fundraisers are happy to answer any questions from the public regarding the RNLI in general and to impart safety information in line with the Respect the Water campaign.

We are always looking for new volunteers in all areas of our work. If you would like to get involved please contact the various sections via our website.

At the time of going to print we are not able to fundraise and our shop, located in The Custom House, is closed, but there are still ways that you can support us. We are a Co-op Local Cause until October and a Just Giving page ( has recently been launched in order to receive donations. We do have other fundraising streams that are online, details of which can be found on our Fundraising Facebook page.

Most of the Betty’s 5p Pots host locations are now open, so if you have full pots to hand in or want an empty pot to start collecting we would be extremely grateful of your support.

If you are looking to buy souvenirs to support the RNLI whilst our shop is closed, please use the RNLI Online Shop by visiting:

For more information:
Visit us on the web at
Search Facebook for RNLI Ramsgate Lifeboat and RNLI Ramsgate Lifeboat Fundraising
Follow us on Twitter: @RamsgateRNLI
Further news of all the RNLI activities going on in Kent can also be found on the new Facebook page -
Written by:
John Ray (Archivist), Karen Cox (Press Officer), Eric Burton (Station Chairman) & Sarah Hewes (Fundraising Chairman).