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'Searchlight': An RNLI and Lloyd's Register Foundation film

New documentary highlights the critical role of young women in saving lives at sea.



‘Searchlight’ - the first in a new series of films commissioned by Lloyd’s Register Foundation has been launched today as part of an ocean safety campaign. The documentary focuses on three young women who volunteer for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) in Oban, West Scotland, which has some of the most changeable and treacherous waters off the British coast.

The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea. Powered primarily by kind donations, its search and rescue service has been saving lives for nearly 200 years. Volunteers make up 95% of the organisation - ordinary people doing extraordinary things - supported by expert staff, all working together to help communities at home and abroad save lives.

Searchlight is told from the perspectives of Lawrie, Leonie and Jasmin, who each shine a light on the sense of purpose, belonging, community and confidence volunteering brings them and highlight how it is possible to find yourself in the service of others.

Produced by award-winning film-maker, Dan McDougall, the film takes place in Oban, Scotland, which takes its name from the Gaelic meaning ‘little bay’.

Lloyd’s Register Foundation helped support the RNLI’s Crew Emergency Procedures course between 2007 to 2020. The course teaches vital skills including practical sea survival, capsize training and how to use all-weather pyrotechnics such as flares. Together, we helped ensure volunteers have the skills required to save lives at sea.



"It’s been joining the boats that has given me confidence. Being a volunteer isn’t just a privilege, it’s a way to grow and find out who you really are too."


"It’s through the spirit of community that I came to see the life-boat station as the best of us. Something that I wanted to be a part of.”


Ruth Boumphrey, CEO of Lloyd's Register Foundation, said: "Through this documentary film, we honour the people giving their service to keep people safe at sea. Far too many people are still losing their lives at sea and this risk grows as the ocean economy doubles in the next ten years. As a global safety charity, it's Lloyd's Register Foundation's mission to engineer a safer world - and that includes a safer ocean - and supporting the RNLI is just one way we do this."

"If there are other organisations out there doing work in this space and would benefit from us sharing this film or any other ones in our series, please do contact us. As well as grant funding safety at sea programmes, we collaborate with partners around the world to raise awareness of ocean-related safety challenges with a view to driving positive change."

Jamie Chestnutt, RNLI Director of Engineering and Supply, said: "We are delighted to be part of the Foundation's ocean safety series and we hope the film gives viewers an insight into the incredible hard work and dedication of our volunteer crews across the UK and Ireland. 

"As a charity that saves lives at sea, we play our part in promoting safety at sea and we are incredibly proud to share our knowledge and understanding with a global audience."

Dan McDougall, Award-Winning Journalist and Director of Searchlight, said: "As the team interviewed the women at the heart of this documentary, it became clear that the story was less about getting under the skin of what it takes to be a rescuer, and more about exploring and understanding the personal growth of the women through volunteerism. 

"Each of them had gained confidence, community and a profound sense of purpose through their roles at the RNLI."

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