The City of
Manchester has a special relationship with the RNLI which began in 1891 when
the world's first charity street collection took place in Manchester on behalf
of the RNLI.
Organised by local industrialist Sir Charles Macara, the
collection followed the RNLI's worst ever lifeboat disaster, when 27 lifeboat
men from Southport and St Annes died trying to rescue sailors on the stricken
vessel Mexico in 1886. The collection raised £5,500 – an amazing amount
for the time – and the money supported the widows and children of the lost
crewmen for many years. The event helped lay the foundations of what became
central to the RNLI's method of funding its lifeboat service.
The next year, the fundraiser consisted of a procession through Manchester and the launch of a lifeboat at Belle Vue Zoological Gardens and launched on the lake at the site.
RNLI presenter Tom Ridyard MBE will talk about the Mexico disaster from the
eyes of a crewman on the night of the tragedy and also Greater Manchester's links with the RNLI.
Tom Ridyard MBE
worked in the textile industry for 50 years travelling the world installing
water jet looms. Tom also worked as a Retained Fireman
for 7 years and it was during this time that he first came into contact with
the RNLI which captured his determination to support the crew who risk their
lives to save others. Under Tom's guidance as
Chairman of Bolton & District Branch, they have sustained income circa £25K
a year. You will always find Tom at the heart of every activity the branch
undertakes, often more than one thing every month.
Alongside his branch duties,
Tom is the custodian of one the the RNLI's display boats which he keeps in
inpecable condition. As an adult speaker for the RNLI, Tom always has a packed
diary of appearances for the boat and himself. He will think nothing of
dressing up in the style of a Lifeboat man from years gone by, in cork
lifejacket and false beard speaking to groups about the history and work of the
RNLI, raising awareness and funds as he goes. He can often be found at Lytham St
Annes Lifeboat Station helping the crew polish their D-class. He is very well
thought of at the station and continually gathers rescue stories to pass on the
work of the RNLI to inland communities. He has lately been found helping clear
the flooded Lifeboat Station from the 2013 storms. In 2015, Tom was delighted
to receive his very well deserved MBE from the Queen for his voluntary work for