Colourised images showcasing the heroism and community spirit of early lifeboat crews and volunteers have been released by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) ahead of its 200th anniversary.

The 11 candid snapshots depict people and events from the charity’s early years, from lifeboats in action to fundraising campaigns.

Featured in the collection is a colourised 1916 photograph of RNLI lifesaver Henry Blogg, who retired in 1947 after 53 years of service on Cromer’s lifeboats and helped save 873 lives at sea.

After the lifeboatman’s death in 1954, Viscount Templewood called him “one of the bravest men who ever lived”.

Children collect money for the charity in Plymouth in 1939 (RNLI/PA)

The photographs also highlight the importance of action taken by volunteers on land.

One image shows a group of Plymouth children collecting money for the charity in 1939 while another from the same year depicts a group of Northumberland women launchers reeling in a lifeboat.

Hayley Whiting, RNLI heritage and archive research manager, said: “The carefully coloured images illustrate just a few highlights of the incredible history of lifesaving over the previous two centuries, where over 144,000 lives have been saved to date.”

After the original black-and-white images had been cleaned of dust and scratches, the RNLI’s heritage team consulted archive records to produce historically accurate colourised versions using Adobe Photoshop.

The charity has been saving lives at sea around the British Isles since it was founded on March 4 1824.

On Monday, the Royal Mint launched a 50p commemorative coin celebrating 200 years of RNLI lifesaving.