09 December 2023
A six-stamp postal tribute from the Isle of Man to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) marks the 200th anniversary of the organisation.
These stamps provide a window into the heroic work of the RNLI in reducing shipwrecks around the UK coast, and the lifeboats and volunteers who have saved countless lives.
Issued on 4 January, these stamps pay homage to the founding of the RNLI by Sir William Hillary in 1824. Sir William lived in Douglas on the Isle of Man and regularly saw the treacherous nature of the sea.
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At the time, the danger of shipwreck was an accepted way of life at sea, with an average of 1,800 shipwrecks a year around the coasts of Britain in the early-19th century. Sir William initially published a pamphlet calling for a lifeboat service, but this was unsuccessful.
He then made an appeal to philanthropic members of London society and on 4 March 1824, at a meeting at the London Tavern in Bishopsgate, London, the National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck was set up. Shortly after, King George lV granted the royal prefix to the Institution’s name, and on 5 October 1854, it became the RNLI.
Five of the six stamps in the set capture the bravery of RNLI volunteers and their life-saving missions by illustrating a specific Manx lifeboat station: Port St Mary Lifeboat Station (1st); Peel Lifeboat Station (£1); Port Erin Lifeboat Station (£1.50); Ramsey Lifeboat Station £1.75); and Douglas Lifeboat Station (£2). The sixth stamp is a tribute to the founder, Sir William Hillary (£3.50).
Featuring historical images from the RNLI's archives, the stamps were designed by the RNLI and Isle of Man Advertising and printed by bpost.