The RNLI is one of the best known maritime rescue organizations in the world. It receives no financial support from the British government and is supported entirely by public donations. Edward Wake-Walker, the RNLI’s former director of public relations, tells the story of the Institution from it’s beginnings during the reign of Queen Victoria, to the hi-tech rescue maritime organization it has become in the 21st Century. He describes how it all began; the early lifeboats  pulling and sailing; early lifeboat heroes – what it took to be a volunteer in the 19th century, some famous coxswains; early rescues and disasters; motorized lifeboats; the arrival of speed – inshore and all-weather craft; the modern fleet; the modern volunteer crewmember; new areas for the RNLI – mudflats (hovercraft), rivers, beaches, prevention of accidents; partners in rescue – Coast Guard, Royal Navy, RAF etc; and concludes with a survivor’s story.