A family-friendly exhibition by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) opens at the House of Manannan later this month. The touring exhibition Hope in the Great War commemorates the centenary of the First World War and is funded by Arts Council England.
Hope in the Great War features six inspirational rescue stories from around the coast of the UK and Ireland, and honours the bravery of RNLI volunteers who risked their lives to save others. Visitors can find out about the effects of war on Manx RNLI crews, and how the people of the Isle of Man managed to crew and maintain six RNLI lifeboat stations in the midst of the war zone that was the Irish Sea.
From 1914 to 1918 lifeboat crews launched 1,808 times, rescuing 5,332 people. With younger men on active duty, it was often down to the older generation to go to the aid of those in danger around our coasts. During the war years, the average age of a lifeboat crew increased to over 50.
The war also brought with it a different type of casualty. Ships in the Irish Sea, North Sea, the English Channel and the Atlantic were targeted by the German Navy, after Germany declared a blockade on Britain in 1915. RNLI lifeboat crews were called out to ships that had been torpedoed or struck mines, such as Royal Navy ship HMS Champagne in 1917.
HMS Champagne was eight miles south-west of the Calf of Man when she was struck by three torpedoes fired from the German submarine U-96. Peel RNLI lifeboat, Mayhew Medwin rescued 21 of the crew members.
The HMS Champagne rescue features in the Hope in the Great War exhibition, along with more inspiring stories from Baltimore, Cromer, Falmouth, Fraserburgh, Port Eynon and Whitby.
Visitors can solve a stained glass interactive puzzle designed and created by junior members of the 1st Cromer Sea Scouts, construct a giant jigsaw created from a stunning collection of original artworks by the Whitby Art Society and watch a creative animation made by the Fraserburgh Sea Cadets. There’s also a podcast by the Horton and Port Eynon lifeboat crew, audible from the handset of a period telephone, an on-screen dramatic narration by the Baltimore Drama Group and an intricate story quilt created by the Falmouth Lighthouse Quilters. Visitors can also don a nautical hat and take a photo to share online using the hashtag #RNLIhope.
Hope in the Great War opens at the House of Manannan in Peel on Saturday, 23rd April 2016 and will be open until Sunday 18th September 2016. Admission to the exhibition gallery is free, with donations welcome to RNLI Isle of Man.
Image caption: RNLB Mayhew Medwin and crew, Peel’s lifeboat 1897-1925. Credit – Peel RNLI