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REVIEW: Women of the RNLI

Lifesavers, trailblazers, fundraisers - this gem of a show marking the centenary of the RNLI celebrates the pivotal role women have played in saving lives at sea. These warriors of the waves have been launching lifeboats since1865 when Margaret Armstrong first rolled up her sleeves and started volunteering.

Founded in 1824 by Sir William Hilary women have always played a vital role with hundreds volunteering across the UK and Ireland. This show celebrates the lives of current volunteers through a series of evocative photographic portraits taken by the brilliant Jack Lowe. All his shots are taken on a 1905 Thornton Pickard field camera and are developed in his roving mobile home as he travels the length and breath of the UK in an attempt to photograph all 238 operational lifeboat stations. The images appear totally timeless.

The exhibition is split into three main sections - 'Fundraising and Campaigning', 'RNLI Crew' and 'Equipment and Training'. There is a very moving film and a fun interactive wall where little ones can dress a 'RNLI Crew' with the appropriate wet weather gear. There are some really captivating stories from the creation of the Tower Bridge RNLI station (post the Marchioness disaster) to the mother and daughter team Maire and Sile who volunteer at the Ballycotton RNLI station in Ireland where Sile basically grew up as both her parents volunteered.

A perfectly formed show with bravery and courage at very turn. GO!

By Julia Colls 29 Feb 2024

National Martime Museum

2 March - 1 Dec



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