The operations manager at Newhaven Lifeboat Station was guest speaker fot the Rotary Club of Seaford on Wednesday November 21.
Mike Tubb told the meeting the Royal National Lifeboat Institution was founded in 1824 by Sir William Hillary for the sole purpose of saving life at sea.
It is a voluntary organisation both in terms of the fact that it is funded entirely by voluntary contributions and, with the exception of the coxswain or mechanic at all-weather lifeboat stations, all the crew are volunteers.
It is possibly unique as a charity in that it operates in both the UK and Republic of Ireland.
Since records began to be kept in the 1850s, more than 139,000 lives have been saved by RNLI lifeboats.
Mike went on to outline the history of the Newhaven station, illustrating his talk with some slides.
He said its foundation in 1803, which predated that of the RNLI by some 21 years, was as a result of an initiative by a number of local worthies who felt the need for action following the loss of HMS Brazenin 1800, which foundered on the rocks close to Newhaven with the loss of 105 lives.
They decided to form a committee and with the aid of a £50 donation from Lloyds of London purchased a lifeboat for the town.
He then briefly outlined some of the more noteworthy rescues carried out over the years and spoke about the development of the lifeboat itself from being a vessel powered solely by oars and occasionally sail, to the present 25 knots state-of-the art lifeboats that operate today.
The talk ended with some interesting questions from the members.