Sunderland lifeboat supporter receives the RNLI's highest honour
The president of Sunderland Lifeboat Guild, Charlotte Stewart, has been made an Honorary Life Governor of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in recognition of almost 60 years' dedicated service to the charity.
Mrs Stewart, aged 93, received her award yesterday (Thursday 18 May) from Princess Alexandra at the RNLI's Annual Presentation of Awards at the Barbican in London.
She was persuaded to begin fundraising for the RNLI in 1947 and since then has been a driving force behind the Sunderland Guild, which raises thousands of pounds for the RNLI every year.
She said: 'I've seen a huge amount of changes since I joined but I've enjoyed every minute of my time with the guild. The one thing that hasn't changed, though, is the generosity of the people of Sunderland - they always give very generously to the RNLI.
'The volunteer crews do a wonderful job and it's so important to continue supporting them. Raising money is easy compared to what they have to do out at sea.'
Mrs Stewart became President of the Sunderland Guild in 1981, received a Silver Badge from the RNLI in 1990 and in 1999 was awarded a Gold Badge, also at the Barbican.
Michael Charlton, the RNLI's Area Fundraising Manager in the North East, said Mrs Stewart is a wonderful ambassador for the RNLI.
He added: 'During the past 59 years, she has given unwavering support to the RNLI. She has organised every type of fundraising event and has guided and supported new members in every role in the Guild.
'Despite being partially sighted, she still leads the Guild and attends not only every event they arrange but also Sunderland Lifeboat Station meetings and regional fundraising events. She is always enthusiastic and keen to adopt any new ideas, and is an inspiration to fundraisers everywhere.'
Frank Major, Chairman of Sunderland Lifeboat Station, said: 'We all owe so much to Charlotte. Not only have her fund-raising efforts raised huge sums over the years, but she has always played a generous and prominent role in the life of Sunderland Lifeboat Station.
'We share in the celebration of Charlotte's service to the RNLI and the recognition accorded to her with the award of Honorary Life Governor. We are all immensely proud of Charlotte's record of support and hope she will continue to play an important role at the lifeboat station in the future.'