One man shares the story of how a lifeboat legacy helped save thousands of lives – including his great-great-grandfather’s.
Crew Member at Sennen Cove Lifeboat Station
Photo: RNLI/Karl Davies
How would you like to be remembered after you’ve gone? For many of us, it’s for the special memories we leave with the ones we love. Sometimes, it’s for our personal achievements or the positive impacts we had on others during our lifetime. But what if our legacy could also touch the lives of people yet to be born?
A stormy night
It’s 1906 and gales are lashing the Cornish coast. The captain of the ship Try Again and his crew are fighting a losing battle against the elements. When the wind tears down the ship’s mast, leaving them without power, Captain Carbines and his crew are in grave danger. RNLI volunteers from St Ives Lifeboat Station launch their lifeboat to go to the ship’s rescue. Despite the terrible conditions, the lifeboat volunteers successfully get every one of the ship’s crew off the vessel and bring them home to safety.
It was a gift in the will of an RNLI supporter that saved Try Again’s crew. That supporter was James Stevens and the legacy he left to the RNLI paid for not one, but twenty new RNLI lifeboats. These went into service all around the UK and Ireland, enabling countless families to be reunited with their loved ones and saving over 1,000 lives.
The legacy lives on
125 years after James Stevens’s legacy, its effects are still being felt. Kirstan Gorvin – a volunteer crew member at nearby Sennen Cove Lifeboat Station – is Captain Carbines’s great-great-grandson. James’s legacy is the reason that Kirstan and his family are alive today.
Kirstan joined the lifeboat crew 19 years ago, and his eldest son (aged 17) is already working as an RNLI lifeguard. Kirstan says: “I often wonder what Captain Carbines would think, knowing his great-great-grandson is now part of the lifeboat crew.
“I’m launching to rescue more people like him, in trouble at sea, bringing hundreds of frightened people back to the ones they love. What an amazing legacy.”
It is sobering to think that some families will only be around in the future due to the generosity of people today. Legacies are vitally important to the RNLI – 6 out of 10 lifeboat launches are only possible because of gifts in wills. Every gift, large or small, is special, helping to fund much-needed lifesaving training, crew kit and equipment.
By leaving a gift in your will to the RNLI you can be part of an incredible lifesaving story – one that can save lives, protect more families, and offer a safe haven to someone frightened and alone in the water.
The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea
Royal National Lifeboat Institution, a charity registered in England and Wales (209603), Scotland (SC037736), the Republic of Ireland (20003326), the Bailiwick of Jersey (14), the Isle of Man, the Bailiwick of Guernsey and Alderney