Volunteers are the heart of the RNLI; without them we couldn’t carry out our vital lifesaving service. Over 95% of the RNLI’s people are volunteers.

From lifeboat crew, lifeguards and shore crew to fundraisers, safety advisers and education presenters – thousands of dedicated volunteers save lives, raise funds, raise awareness, and help in our museums, shops, visitor centres and offices.

As the RNLI says: “In 1891, the RNLI became the first charity to organise a street collection, marking the beginning of a strong fundraising tradition. Today we remain separate from the coastguard and independent of the government, so we rely on the generosity of people like you. Over 1,000 groups of volunteers in communities throughout the UK and Ireland organise all sorts of fundraising activities throughout the year. From coffee mornings to quiz nights, rambles to races, and more. Many groups have close links with local lifeboat stations.”

We also have several big fundraising campaigns throughout the year, including Mayday in the spring and Fish Supper in the autumn (this year’s is on 15 October).

There are over 23,000 RNLI volunteer community fundraisers. I wanted to interview Jill Goddard, Events Co-ordinator and Vice-Chairman of the Twickenham, Teddington and District Fundraising branch to find out more about the volunteer work they do.

‘The crew of Teddington Lifeboat Station are strongly supported by the work of our branch. This hard-working group attend many local events to raise money in various ways but especially by the sale of RNLI official souvenirs,’ according to Jill.

How did your involvement with the RNLI start?

‘My first volunteering position within the RNLI was as tea lady at a Charity Football match in support of my late husband John Denton. Then under the old maxim ‘if you can’t beat them join them’. I was invited to join the Committee in the mid-1980’s. During the following years I have held every position in the Committee except Treasurer. For example, I have been Chairman three times!’

What have been the highlights of your time?

‘I would say our branch being awarded a Certificate of Thanks at the House of Lords. Closely followed by the arrival of Teddington Lifeboat station in 2002 and the first D-Class InShore Lifeboat Spirit of the Thames and its subsequent naming ceremony lives very much in the memory.’

Teddington RNLI now has two D-Class Inshore Lifeboats.

Any other moments?

‘The double celebration in 2009 of our 50th birthday and finally reaching that magic figure in our fundraising of one million pounds! I subsequently received my Gold badge from Paul Boissier (RNLI Chief Executive) at the Hurlingham Club along with Joan Catt (Gold) and Philip Bateman (Silver). The best thing of all though is the generous hardworking committee members, crew and helpers without whom none of this would happen. You also hear some interesting stories when out collecting!’

What makes you carry on?

‘Knowing that the hard work we put in week after week helps save lives and keeps the crews safe.’

It’s thanks to the volunteer work of people such as Jill and the branch team that we are able to operate two boats 24/7 from Teddington RNLI Lifeboat Station.

To find out how to get involved with RNLI fundraising visit RNLI.org/volunteer.