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Past and Present

125 years ago From The Life-Boat of 1870 At a time when the RNU'sinamie from legacies is under scrutiny it is interesting to look back to the Institution's earliest days ami the wn / in which lifeboat* were funded.

The Gift Life-boats of the National Life-Boat Institution Fourteen years since a movement commenced of an altogether novel character in the life-boat work, and which is without precedent in this or in any other country. At that period a benevolent lady presented the National Life-boat Institution with the cost of a new lifeboat, to be stationed at a part of the coast where one was needed. Another life-boat soon followed from a gentleman. A third was presented by a yacht club: and a fourth was given by a lady as a thank offering after a providential preservation from drowning. Rapidly the generous spark was fanned into a flame and new boats, as fast as they were required on the various coasts of the United Kingdom, were presented to the Society.

Many of these noble gifts assumed the shape of memorials to departed relatives or friends, the first of which was given by two surviving sisters, in memory of a third to whom they had bid a last farewell, and which boat bears the affecting and affectionate name of The Sisters' Memorial. Next came inland towns, Ipswich being the first, some of the inhabitants of which, feeling a desire that their own communities should be represented on the coast as performing their share of the national duty of affording protection to shipwrecked persons, in the only manner in which they could do so, appealed to their fellow-townsmen, and soon many of such inland places were represented by their own boats. Our chief manufacturing towns and cities being conspicuous amongst the number.

Again, various public bodies of men, such as the great Mutual Benefit Societies, the Civil Service, the universities, the yacht clubs, commercial travellers, Sunday schools, and the subscribers to public journals, the Society of Friends etc. and l.iitly, standing by itself in kind, the noble gift of £2.0uu lor the provision and endowment of a life-boat station, by a firm of Parsee Merchants. Messrs Cama and Co.. on retiring from business in London, as an acknowledgement of, or thank offering for their success, and in testimony of their appreciation of the kind reception they had uniformly met with from the inhabitants of London.

In this manner it has come to pass that, as a great and enduring monument of the benevolent feeling and voluntary duty, if we may use the term, of the people of this country, the grand fleet of splendid and perfectlyequipped life-boats which belongs to the Life-boat Institution now encircles our coasts. That fleet, at the present time, consists of no less than 220 boats and of that large number 212 have been spec-ml u:.: . r. as in the case of a very few of them, have b MI ifl'ipted by payment of their existing value..