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Skydiving Eastbourne RNLI Supporter Gets Behind Town's Lifeboat Campaign

Steve and Sam present their fundraising cheque to Eastbourne RNLI (Photo: ©RNLI/Daniel Baldock)

After launching 107 times in 2023, Eastbourne's RNLI team are raising support for their charity's "Mayday Mile" campaign next month.

With demand for the RNLI’s lifesaving services at a high, the charity is putting out its own ‘Mayday’ call, urging members of the local community to take part in the Mayday Mile — taking on the challenge of covering a mile a day for the month of May.

All money raised will help to provide the charity’s vital lifesaving service, through the training and equipment that is needed to keep its lifesavers safe, while they risk their own lives to save others.

The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

Funds raised in May will help support the charity’s vital lifesaving work, including the provision of important training and kit for the volunteer lifeboat crews who readily risk their own lives to save others whenever the call for help comes in.

One such person who was inspired to raise money for Eastbourne lifeboat station is Steve Hodges.

He decided to fundraise for Eastbourne RNLI after suffering a dismasting incident, where the mast of his yacht became detached from his vessel, ten miles off the northern coast of France.

Having been billed €3,900 from the Société Nationale de Sauvetage en Mer (SNSM), the French equivalent of the RNLI, he became inspired to raise money for his local rescue service, the RNLI in Eastbourne.

He embarked on a skydive from Headcorn Aerodrome in Kent, jumping 12,000 feet in tandem with Simon (his skydive instructor), ultimately raising £5,040 for Eastbourne RNLI.

Steve also has a personal connection with Eastbourne RNLI, enlisting help from their volunteer crew in 2022 to propose to his fiancée Sam McClements by flag signals from the lifeboat to his yacht.

This was a complete surprise for Sam. Luckily for Steve she said “yes” and accepted his proposal.

The RNLI’s Mayday fundraiser begins on Monday 1 May and will run for the whole month across the UK and Ireland.

Carl Pocock, volunteer lifeboat operations managed at Eastbourne RNLI said:

"Summer is the busiest time of year for the RNLI, with thousands of people at risk of getting into danger by the water.

"Having recently marked the RNLI’s 200th anniversary, we’re putting out our call for help to raise the funds which will help keep our lifesaving service going today and into the future.

"As a charity we rely on the generosity of the public to take part in events like the Mayday Mile and raise the funds that allow us to be there when we’re needed most."

The RNLI has established a campaign information website at

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