The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) will mark 200 years of lifesaving at a service of thanksgiving at Glasgow Cathedral this Sunday.

Volunteers from around Scotland will form a guard of honour and join the public service to mark the charity’s bicentenary.

RNLI lifeboats in Scotland have launched 45,853 times, saving 11,878 lives. That means over a quarter (25.9%) of all rescues in Scotland have resulted in a life saved.

Founded in a London tavern on 4 March, 1824, following an appeal from Sir William Hillary, who lived on the Isle of Man and witnessed many shipwrecks, the RNLI has continued saving lives at sea throughout the tests of its history, including tragic disasters, funding challenges and two World Wars.

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Featuring in Sunday’s service of thanksgiving will be a new verse to the hymn Eternal Father Strong to Save, ‘For those in peril on the sea’, written by an RNLI volunteer and approved by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The verse first aired on television during a special episode of Songs of Praise on Sunday to mark the 200th Anniversary of the RNLI.

The verse could be heard in all its glory on Monday at Westminster Abbey, and one person who didn’t need the hymn sheet was the author and Anstruther volunteer crew member, Richard MacDonald, who was inspired to write the verse after three members of the French lifeboat service, the Société Nationale de Sauvetage en Mer, were lost at sea in storm force conditions.

He said: ‘I was aware that many other services including the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, and the US Coastguard had added their own verse to the hymn, but there was none for the RNLI, so I composed a verse and sent it off to the CEO of the RNLI, Mark Dowie. 

"I didn’t really expect to hear back, but I was contacted by his office to say the verse had resonated with him, and in turn he’d submitted it to the Archbishop of Canterbury for his seal of approval, which in due course he received.’

The service will take place at 11.00am at Glasgow Cathedral, with a guard of honour provided by dressed RNLI volunteers from 10.30am. A civic reception will follow, hosted by the Lord Provost of Glasgow.