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Lifeboat crews' 190 years of courage and commitment captured in words and pictures

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 17, 2013

Nigel Millard with his dramatic photograph of the Penlee Lifeboat, Ivan Ellen PICTURE: PHIL MONCKTON

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A dramatic photograph of the Penlee lifeboat Ivan Ellen, almost submerged in white water as she crosses Mount's Bay, sums up what those four little letters "RNLI" are all about, writes Frank Ruhrmund.

Formed almost 190 years ago, the lifeboat service has saved more than 140,000 lives.

The launch of a splendid book by Penwith-based author and historian Dr Huw Lewis-Jones, and the opening of an exhibition of photographs in Mousehole, not only mark that anniversary but also the 32nd anniversary of the loss of the Penlee lifeboat Solomon Browne, on December 19, 1981.

The images – including that of the Ivan Ellen – were taken by volunteer RNLI crew member and award-winning photographer, Nigel Millard.

Some 40 prints from 450 photographs in The Lifeboat: Courage On Our Coasts, published by Conway in association with the RNLI at £25, make up the display at the Old Coastguard Hotel and runs in tandem with an exhibition currently touring the UK and Ireland. All proceeds from a book launch, exhibition opening and auction of prints at the Old Coastguard Hotel will go to the RNLI.

Nigel Mallard's photographs and Huw Lewis-Jones's words pay tribute to the bravery, compassion and commitment of everyone associated with the service, almost all of whom are volunteers – lifeboat men and women to lifesavers and fund raisers.

Prince William writes in his foreword to the book: "The RNLI is a charity that depends on the public's generosity to equip and train its lifesavers. It is a heart-warming thought that such generosity is shown every day on and off our shores. Long may it continue."

The Lifeboat: Courage On Our Coasts by Nigel Mallard and Huw Lewis-Jones is available at the Old Coastguard Hotel in Mousehole, where the exhibition can be seen until March 4, 2014.

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