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Volunteers are at the heart of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution making up 95% of the organisation.  Earlier in the year photographer Richard Oughton captured a series of striking portraits of Fylde Coast volunteers which also successfully raised money for this essential charity.

The RNLI is a registered charity run by volunteers to save lives at sea, a key service in Blackpool with our expanse of promenade and ocean. The Royal National Lifeboat Association was founded in 1824 as The Royal Institute for the Preservation of Lives and Property. Since 1824 the RNLI has saved 143,000 lives as well as provided youth education and water safety work – an extremely important, yet sometimes unseen service.

The powerful images of the Lifeboat crew speak for themselves (metaphorically) and were exhibited as part of a HiveArts project which displayed artwork in a series of tram shelters spanning the length of Blackpool promenade.  The perfect spot for portraits of Blackpool’s lifeguard service.

The idea came about through Richard’s teaching at evening classes with Blackpool and Fylde College. As part of the evening class Richard takes the students out onto the prom for a practical session on a Wednesday evening.

Richard commented “Seeing the volunteers in their dry suits & gear, I knew my style of shooting would compliment them and the response to the images has been truly overwhelming. ” Adding
“There is an amazing camaraderie amongst The RNLI volunteers, It’s been a privilege to stand amongst them and witness the tight bond they have for one other which I hope I have captured in their images.  Some images face out to sea, this is something I wanted to happen to perhaps indicate the idea of how the coastguards are always watching over us and the sea.”

If you were lucky, you may have caught sight of the powerful portraits displayed in Blackpool’s Promenade tram stops up to September 2021.

Find out more about Richard Oughton’s photography
Find out more about and donate to the RNLI 

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