Swanage Lifeboat Station is to feature again on the popular BBC TV series Saving Lives at Sea but there’s an opportunity to visit the boathouse in person during lifeboat week and peek behind the scenes.
Swanage Lifeboat Week, which runs from Friday 11th to Sunday 20th August 2023, includes a chance to watch the boats launch and even go on board the all weather lifeboat, as well as enjoy a number of fundraising activities throughout the 10 days.
Swanage’s all weather lifeboat launches from the boathouse during training
Caught on camera – The launch is filmed by the Saving Lives at Sea crew
Boathouse open day moves to the first Saturday
In a change of schedule from previous years the Swanage boathouse open day is on the first Saturday – the 12th, rather than the last Saturday, which spreads the events more evenly over the week.
Chair of Swanage Lifeboat Station Dave Corben has been involved in the RNLI for 50 years, first as a crew member, then part of the shore team and now he’s spearheading the planning for Swanage Lifeboat Week. He said:
“It’s wonderful to be back involved with lifeboat week – it’s a great privilege. The hope is that we can get back to pre pandemic levels of fundraising.
“We’ve introduced more payment machines to make things easier to donate and there’s plenty of events to attract people to come along. The big day is the last Saturday of the week with the live music and the build a boat competition.
“Probably the thing that I look forward to most is the service on the pier on the last Sunday. It’s the culmination of the week and it’s conducted by the reverend Tony Higgins, who used to be on the lifeboat himself.
“I also enjoy the fayre and of course the duck race where you may just catch me dressed up as a duck on a motorbike!”
Chair of Swanage RNLI, Dave Corben back at the helm for Swanage Lifeboat Week 2023
The open day at the boathouse will be a popular event
Swanage Lifeboat Week events Friday 11th to Sunday 20th August 2023
- Open golf competition at the Dorset Golf and Country Club 8 am to 7pm
- Ducks go on sale for Sunday’s duck race £2 each 10 am to 4pm
- Boathouse open day with lifeboat launches 11 am to 4 pm
- Angling competition organised by Swanage Angling Club 9 am to 5 pm
- Charity duck race starts at 4pm from outside the Conservative Club in King’s Road
- Outdoor Theatre: The Comedy of Errors at Prince Albert Gardens 7 pm to 10.30 pm
- Fun sailing race at Swanage Sailing Club 6.30 pm to 8.30 pm
- Outdoor Cinema: Top Gun: Maverick at Prince Albert Gardens 8.30 pm to 11.30 pm
- Lighthouse Loop 5K fun run starting from Peveril Point at 7 pm with sign in from 6 pm
- Lifeboat launch at 6.15 pm
- Senior sailing race from Swanage Sailing Club 6.30 pm to 8.30 pm
- Gig race at Main Beach 6 pm to 9 pm
- Fun quiz at Swanage Royal British Legion. Team of up to six, £3 per person 8 pm to 11 pm
- Flag day street collection 9 am to 1pm
- Live music, bar and barbecue at Prince Albert Gardens 8 pm to 11 pm
- Lifeboat fayre at Prince Albert Gardens 11 am to 4 pm
- Build a boat competition at Prince Albert Gardens 12 noon to 4 pm, with race at 4 pm from Stone Quay
- Live music with Love Soul Choir at Prince Albert Gardens 1 pm to 1.30 pm
- Lobster raffle draw by Swanage Bay Fish at Prince Albert Gardens 1.30 pm
- Live music with Love Soul Choir at Prince Albert Gardens 2 pm to 2.30 pm
- Live music, bar and barbecue at Prince Albert Gardens 6 pm to 11 pm
- Lifeboat Service on Swanage Pier 4 pm to 4.45 pm
The soon to be replaced inshore lifeboat launches off the slipway
The all weather lifeboat still going strong
Swanage Lifeboat Week raised £26,000 in 2022
Swanage Lifeboat Station is one of the busiest in the UK with 60 to 65 callouts a year so is regularly featured on the BBC TV series Saving Lives at Sea and the next series is no exception.
A film crew and producer were recording the latest training session on Wednesday 9th August 2023 to feature alongside some of the lifeboat crew’s recent rescues.
All the money raised from lifeboat week goes towards the day to day running costs of the Swanage RNLI operation including fuel for the boats. In 2022, Swanage Lifeboat Week raised £26,000.
Dave Corben added:
“I do hope people will come along to lifeboat week and support us again this year. The RNLI is wholly funded by donations and receives no money from the government.
“Without crucial fundraising like this, we couldn’t do all that we do to save lives around the Dorset Coast.”
All strapped in for the launch
Swanage lifeboats launch 60 to 65 times a year
Swanage RNLI celebrates 150 years in 2025
The spotlight will be on the RNLI over the next two years – it’s the 200th anniversary of the RNLI in 2024 and Swanage Lifeboat Station will be celebrating 150 years of operations in 2025.
The new series of Saving Lives at Sea is expected to be broadcast on the BBC in autumn 2023. This all helps to raise the profile of the work of the RNLI.
Swanage Lifeboat coxswain Dave Turnbull at the boathouse preparing for lifeboat week
“It’s heartwarming and humbling”
Swanage Lifeboat coxswain Dave Turnbull said:
“We aim to build on the success of last year and also to talk more to the public about what we do.
“The TV programme Saving Lives at Sea has had quite a big positive impact and often we meet people who come along to the boathouse because they’ve seen us on TV and want to know more. It does a good job at showcasing the rescues but that’s only one side of our operation.
“If people come along during lifeboat week, they’ll see much more of the other side – all the volunteers who do the fundraising, work in the shop, welcoming visitors and giving advice on water safety.
“There’s different ways to save lives and we have volunteers from those in their early 20s through to their 80s.”
“I enjoy the Friday and Saturday nights at the end of lifeboat week – it’s always a good atmosphere at Prince Albert Gardens with the live music. It’s heartwarming and humbling that so many people come along to support us.
“It’s good to raise the money but the 10 days are also about engaging the local community and giving people the whole picture of Swanage Lifeboat Station – not just the TV version!”
The open day on Saturday 12th August 2023 is a chance to peek behind the scenes of the TV programme