A landmark anniversary of a worldwide institution has been officially marked - 200 years to the day since it was formed.

Douglas City Council held a ceremony at the War Memorial on Douglas Promenade this week (Monday) to commemorate the bicentenary of the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution).

It was on March 4, 1824, that then Douglas resident Sir William Hillary’s vision for a dedicated service became a reality.

Two centuries on, the work of the RNLI is admired around the world, becoming a household name, and it all started on the Isle of Man.

Since the charity was founded, its volunteer crews across the Isle of Man’s five lifeboat stations have launched 3,154 times, saving 1,665 lives.

And in total across the British Isles and Ireland, 146,452 lives have been saved by the RNLI - with this equating to an average of two lives saved every day for 200 years.

During the 200-year lifesaving history, crews at Douglas Lifeboat Station have launched 667 times and saved 348 lives.

At Peel Lifeboat Station they have launched 557 times and saved 254 lives.

Volunteers at Port Erin Lifeboat Station have launched 436 times and saved 119 lives.

Port St Mary’s lifeboat volunteers have launched 804 times and saved 293 lives and at Ramsey Lifeboat Station the crew have launched 690 times and saved 651 lives.

In the capital this week, with the official RNLI flag, Manx flag and Union flag all raised at the focal point of the War Memorial, Mayor of Douglas, Councillor Natalie Byron-Teare welcomed attendees and said it was an honour to hold such office in the birthplace of the RNLI on such a momentous occasion.

 Addressing guests, who included Lieutenant Governor Sir John Lorimer and Lady Lorimer, Douglas Councillors and MHKs, as well as local and visiting RNLI officials and volunteers, the Mayor said Douglas had an ‘inextricable link to saving lives at sea’ and it was important to acknowledge the invaluable work of the charity in both Manx waters and further afield.

She said: ‘Douglas is the city where the RNLI all began. The rich nautical heritage of the Island cannot be better summed up than the lifesaving and fundraising work the RNLI carries out in Manx seas and the countless hours given by loyal volunteer lifeboat crews in our Island community.

‘To those volunteers dedicated to saving lives at sea - a number of whom are here today – thank you.

‘To my Council colleagues, the politicians and officials of today and yesteryear who have ensured the legacy of Sir William has been kept alive here in Douglas - thank you.

‘To the RNLI representatives who have travelled across to attend this special service – you are most welcome.

‘And as we commemorate all that has gone before, celebrate the lifesavers of today, and inspire the next generation who will continue lifesaving for generations to come, all that remains to be said is: happy birthday to the RNLI.’

In reply, Councillor Peter Washington, who is the Lifeboat Operations Manager for Douglas, spoke about the future for the charity and the local events being arranged in 2024 to commemorate the milestone.

This includes a Council-RNLI collaboration with a special edition of heritage and nature trails produced in booklet form and electronically, comprising a series of walks to RNLI sites and monuments around the capital.

On the same day as the service in Douglas, an anniversary service was held at Westminster Abbey in London to commemorate 200 years of the RNLI.

Closer to home, lights on Douglas Promenade and main shopping streets were turned yellow on Monday evening – the colour of the RNLI’s iconic wellies.