Royal appointment for Bridlington RNLI Crew at Buckingham Palace

Two members of the Bridlington RNLI crew, accompanied by their families, recently had the privilege of attending a prestigious garden party at Buckingham Palace. This special event was part of the celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of the RNLI. On Thursday, May 23rd, AJ Shepherd, a mechanic, and James Mather, a technical assistant and volunteer, represented Bridlington RNLI at this significant event.

A Royal Celebration

The Significance of the Event

The garden party at Buckingham Palace was not just any gathering; it was a monumental occasion for the RNLI. Celebrating its 200th anniversary, the RNLI has been a stalwart in saving lives at sea since its inception in 1824. This event was a fitting tribute to the bravery and dedication of its volunteers over two centuries.

Esteemed Guests

The attendees included some of the most esteemed figures associated with the RNLI. Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, graced the event with her presence. Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence and the RNLI President, The Duke of Kent, were also in attendance. The event’s significance was further elevated by the involvement of His Majesty the King, who granted permission for the garden party.

Bridlington RNLI
Bridlington RNLI

Bridlington RNLI Representatives

AJ Shepherd: A Lifelong Commitment

AJ Shepherd, a dedicated mechanic at the Bridlington RNLI station, expressed his profound honor at being invited. Shepherd has been a part of the RNLI for years, and attending such a prestigious event was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for him. He shared his feelings about representing Bridlington RNLI during such a milestone year for the organization.

James Mather: A Family Affair

James Mather, a technical assistant and volunteer, also felt deeply honored to represent Bridlington RNLI. What made the event even more special for James was attending with his pregnant wife, Adelle. This garden party was not just an official duty but a memorable family experience as well.

Bridlington RNLI
Bridlington RNLI

The RNLI’s Rich History

Founded in 1824

The RNLI was established in 1824 with the mission of saving lives at sea. Over the years, it has grown into a crucial organization, operating 238 lifeboat stations across the UK and Ireland and maintaining over 240 lifeguard units on beaches.

Independent and Funded by Donations

One of the unique aspects of the RNLI is its independence. Unlike many rescue services, the RNLI operates without direct government funding. It relies on voluntary donations and legacies, a testament to the public’s trust and support.

A Record of Heroism

Since its foundation, the RNLI has saved over 142,700 lives. This incredible figure highlights the bravery and commitment of its volunteers, who risk their lives to save others in perilous sea conditions.

The Buckingham Palace Garden Party

A Day to Remember

For AJ Shepherd and James Mather, the garden party at Buckingham Palace was a day filled with pride and honor. The event allowed them to meet and interact with fellow RNLI members and dignitaries, sharing stories and experiences from their respective lifeboat stations.

Meeting the Royals

The opportunity to meet members of the royal family was a highlight for many attendees. Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, is a long-time supporter of the RNLI, and her presence underscored the significance of the event. The Duke of Kent, who has served as RNLI President since 1969, and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, a former Chair and Vice President, also added to the occasion’s grandeur.

Celebrating with Families

The event was not just about the volunteers; it was also a celebration of the families who support them. James Mather’s wife, Adelle, who is expecting their first child, shared in this special day, making it a memorable family occasion.

Looking Back: 200 Years of Service

Milestones and Achievements

The RNLI’s history is dotted with milestones and achievements. From its early days of wooden lifeboats to the modern, technologically advanced fleet, the organization has continuously evolved to meet the demands of maritime rescue.

Innovation and Training

The RNLI is known for its innovation in lifeboat design and rescue techniques. It has also established rigorous training programs to ensure that its volunteers are prepared for any situation they might face at sea.

Community Involvement

The RNLI’s work extends beyond rescues. It plays a crucial role in educating communities about sea safety, running programs and campaigns to prevent accidents before they happen.

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The Importance of Volunteerism

A Volunteer-Driven Organization

At the heart of the RNLI are its volunteers. These individuals give their time and risk their lives to ensure the safety of others. Their dedication is the lifeblood of the organization, and events like the Buckingham Palace garden party are a way to honor their selfless service.

Stories of Heroism

Every RNLI station has its stories of heroism. Volunteers often go above and beyond the call of duty, displaying courage and resilience in the face of danger. These stories inspire not only the RNLI community but also the public at large.

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Future of the RNLI

Continued Commitment

As the RNLI moves into its third century, its commitment to saving lives at sea remains unwavering. The organization continues to innovate and adapt, ensuring that it can meet future challenges head-on.

Engaging the Next Generation

Engaging the next generation of volunteers is crucial for the RNLI’s future. Programs aimed at young people and community engagement initiatives are helping to inspire future lifeboat crews and supporters.

Sustaining Through Donations

The RNLI’s reliance on donations means that public support is more critical than ever. Fundraising efforts and awareness campaigns are essential to sustain its operations and ensure that it can continue its life-saving work.


The Buckingham Palace garden party was more than just a celebration; it was a tribute to the dedication and bravery of the RNLI’s volunteers. For AJ Shepherd and James Mather, it was a day of immense pride, representing Bridlington RNLI at such a prestigious event. As the RNLI celebrates 200 years of saving lives, it looks forward to continuing its vital work, supported by the unwavering dedication of its volunteers and the generosity of the public.


1. What is the RNLI?

The RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) is a charity dedicated to saving lives at sea. It operates lifeboat stations and lifeguard units across the UK and Ireland.

2. Who attended the Bridlington RNLI 200th Anniversary Garden Party?

The event was attended by notable figures including Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, and RNLI President The Duke of Kent.

3. How is the RNLI funded?

The RNLI is funded through voluntary donations and legacies. It does not receive direct government funding.

4. What roles do AJ Shepherd and James Mather have at Bridlington RNLI?

AJ Shepherd is a mechanic at the Bridlington RNLI station, and James Mather is a technical assistant and volunteer.

5. What is the significance of the RNLI’s 200th anniversary?

The 200th anniversary marks two centuries of the RNLI’s dedication to saving lives at sea, celebrating its history, achievements, and the bravery of its volunteers.

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