Mayday! The Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s biggest annual fundraising event is back, and the charity is calling on the public for their support.

The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea, relying on voluntary public donations to maintain its 24-hour search and rescue service around the UK and Ireland.

With continuing high demand for its lifesaving services, the charity is putting out its own ‘Mayday’ call, urging the public to take part in its biggest national fundraising event, the Mayday Mile. The Mayday Mile challenges supporters to cover a mile a day throughout May – whether it’s walking, jogging or any way they like – whilst raising vital funds for the charity so that it can continue its lifesaving work.

Summer is the busiest time of year for RNLI lifesavers. More people are drawn to the water – and more people get into danger. Money raised through the Mayday Mile will help the charity’s lifeboat crews and lifeguards keep people safe around the coast this summer, providing its lifesavers with the world class training and equipment they need to fulfil the RNLI’s lifesaving mission to save every one.

Volunteers are the heart of the charity and make up 95 per cent of RNLI people. When the call to rescue comes in, they will drop everything to help somebody in need.

Will you answer the RNLI’s Mayday call?

Sign up now and find out more at


Leah Hunter has qualified as Whitby’s first female helm for the inshore lifeboat. Credit: Ceri Oakes

RNLI volunteers, like Leah Hunter, hope that this year’s Mayday Mile will bring to life the importance of the charity’s lifesaving work. At 18 years old, Leah joined the crew at Whitby Lifeboat Station after witnessing its lifeboat crew rescuing a capsized rowing boat. Since then, Leah has qualified as Whitby’s first female helm for the inshore lifeboat.

Aspiring to be an offshore paramedic, Leah’s first-aid skills have been tested during her nine years as a volunteer, having rescued casualties with broken bones and families who were swept out to sea.

Leah shares: “When the pager goes off, we could be attending anything from people getting cut off by the tide to medical shouts or searching for a missing person. It’s never the same rescue twice, it’s always different and you’re always learning.”

Leah has experienced first-hand what your donations mean to the volunteers and how it can help the charity’s lifesaving service: “Volunteers like myself depend on your kindness to help save lives at sea. “When you take part in the Mayday Mile or sponsor other people, you are helping fund everything we need to carry out our lifesaving role – such as the intensive training and hard-wearing kit we need in an emergency. As the weather warms up, more and more people will need us and that’s why we need you.’

Will you Go The Distance to support the RNLI? Credit: RNLI


Last year, there were over 1,400 sign-ups to the RNLI’s Mayday Mile, raising funds to support lifesavers across the UK and Ireland.


The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and their lifeguards patrol over 240 beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 143,900 lives.


The RNLI has over 5,600 volunteer crew members and over 3,700 volunteer shore crew around the UK and Ireland, with over 1,600 seasonal beach lifeguards working alongside the lifeboats.


The RNLI is urging anyone visiting the coast this summer to:

  • Visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags.
  • Check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage to understand local risks.
  • If you get into difficulty in the water, remember to FLOAT TO LIVE. Lean back, extend your arms and legs and gently move them aroundto help you float if you need to. Float until you can control your breathing, then swim to safety if you can or call for help.
  • In an emergency, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.