I have supported the RNLI for as long as I can remember. This charity is totally run by volunteers and does a magnificent job of rescuing those in trouble at sea. I live close to Morecambe Bay and know what a fantastic job the RNLI do, ordinary people who do extra ordinary things. That is why I always support them by visiting the RNLI shops whenever and wherever I can. There are two shops in Morecambe and they have a huge array of gifts, souvenirs and cards to be found on sale.
The shops are run by volunteers and are friendly and appreciative of anyone who spends money to further the work that the Royal National Lifeboat Institute does.
Over the years I have bought many things including Christmas cards, notepads, gifts for a host of family and friends and I always love a look around the shops whenever I see one in any town.
The clothing range is also good quality and is a great way to advertise the RNLI which is on all of the garments. They always have a classic look and the sweatshirts, tee shirts and hoodies look really nice with the small logo of the RNLI on them.
There is a huge amount of items in stock and something for everyone from adults to children. Some things can be pricey but knowing that the proceeds go to funding a very worthwhile charity makes it worth spending a little more than normal and the stock is so well made and of good quality that the price seems fair.
I know most people will have visited a RNLI shop at some time but I would recommend the shops to anyone wanting to buy something unusual that helps the RNLI in many ways.
As a lot of you already know I am a long standing supporter of the RNLI or Royal National Lifeboat Institution. This all started when I was a girl and used to watch Blue Peter and support their annual appeals. One year they asked for used postage stamps to sell in order to buy inshore lifeboats for the RNLI. As with all of their appeals they did reports about the RNLI and I remember, even at that young age, being in awe of people who were prepared to stop what they were doing and risk their lives to save others AND as volunteers!
Whilst in the Midlands I joined the local branch although I was never asked to help with fundraising and I became a member of Shoreline which is the non sailing arm of the RNLI fundraising membership.
When I moved here to Llandudno I joined the local guild and was immediately involved in fundraising becoming the Box Secretary in 2002 - in case you don't know that is the person that empties the collecting boxes and pays the money into the bank.
That gives you an idea as to why I am so passionate about the lifeboats and am now going to tell you all about the RNLI shops. Bear in mind that the RNLI receives no money from the Government so the whole institution is financed by voluntary donations via shops, collections, events, corporate donations and legacies.
The shops are found mainly in seaside towns although there are some inland ones too. They are manned (or womanned!) by volunteers and sell lifeboat souvenirs. Please note that they are not charity shops that sell unwanted items donated by supporters. As well as the souvenirs for sale you will usually also find a wealth of knowledge about the boats and the RNLI in the form of leaflets and also from the volunteers who work there. In fact some of the shops form part of the local boathouse and you will usually be able to take a look at the lifeboat as well.
The shops sell a wide range of gifts from pencils for 50p up to sweatshirts depending on the amount of room that they have available to display goods - some shops are quite small but others have room for a lot more stock.
The sorts of things that you can buy at the shops include stationery (we do a lovely range of pens), toys, buckets and spades, crab nets, ornaments, clothes, note cards, birthday cards, note books, memo blocks, badges, fridge magnets, key rings, model boats, teddy bears, mugs, umbrellas, shopping bags, sweets, tea bags, calendars and Christmas cards.
Here in Llandudno we don't actually have a shop at the moment so we make our own!
We have a little caravan where we store our stock and every Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday during the summer months we put up a set of tables on the promenade, set out the stock and sell souvenirs from 8am until 6pm. It is hard work but we love doing it and last year we made just over £50,000 over the season.
We don't have room to sell clothes but we manage to stock all the other things that I have mentioned. A lot of the items are very cheaply priced so it is easy to treat the children to a little toy or a notebook and pen without breaking the bank and you are helping to save lives too.
I had originally asked for this category to be set up so that I could tell you all about the lifeboat shops before the season started but I have just discovered that I have another reason to tell you. Mew has had his photograph accepted for the RNLI Cats Calendar for 2011! The Christmas cards and calendars won't be available until June or July but all our family and friends will be getting a calendar this year!
Incidentally my current Dooyoo picture is the one they are using in the Calendar.
So there you are - a bit of background about the RNLI and their shops - so if you're passing pop in even if you only buy a pencil it all helps. If you are in Llandudno come and say hello to us on the promenade! In fact over the May Day Bank Holiday we are there for three days as Llandudno celebrates the annual Victorian Extravaganza.
Incidentally if you are interested in buying souvenirs and are nowhere near a shop you can take a look at the website at www.rnli.org.uk where will find a wide range of gifts.