KEEPING a watch over the waters of 1066 Country is an expensive job - which is why the RNLI is urging locals to remember its vital work in their wills.
The crews in Hastings are funded entirely by donations and hoping more people follow the example of Joan Cullen who passed away in 2004.
Mrs Cullen, whose husband served as a submariner in the Royal Navy, left more than £50,000 to the lifeboat teams locally - money which has been well spent.
The all-weather boat, housed on The Stade, underwent a re-fit two years ago.
Its engines were taken out and re-built, large parts of the hull completely stripped out and the entire boat re-painted.
It took 19 weeks to complete and cost a whopping £179,000 - with the Hastings branch of the charity saying it was only possible because of the generosity of Mrs Cullen.
Hastings RNLI coxswain Steve Warne said: “It’s thanks to the legacies we receive that our station has the best equipment and the crew are trained to the best of their ability.
“No matter how large or small, from funding boots to boats, every gift matters and has a direct impact on the running of our station.
“Mrs Cullen’s kind legacy gift has ensured our boat will be reliable for the next five to 10 years.”
Tony Horrox, Mrs Cullen’s nephew, told the Observer: “Joan spent her life working as a civil servant in London for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food.
“After she retired, she moved to a flat in Hastings, overlooking the sea.
“She loved Hastings where she lived for several years before she was married and in particular she felt the work done by the RNLI was especially important and we knew it was a cause she would have wanted to support.”
The RNLI is embarking on a week-long publicity drive to encourage more to leave the charity money in their wills.
A recent survey showed that while 74 per cent of the country support charities, with 35 per cent promising to leave money to good causes, just seven per cent actually leave a legacy.
Donna Young, RNLI legacy manager for the south east, said: “The RNLI relies heavily on gifts in wills to run its service, in fact six out of 10 launches are only possible thanks to legacies.
“After money has been set aside for families and loved ones, any money left will really benefit the RNLI – helping run the service for years to come.
“So we are calling on people to consider leaving a proportion of what’s left, once they’ve remembered their loved ones.”
To find out more about leaving a gift to the RNLI in your will, call 0207 620 7400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, visit www.rnli.org.uk/remember.