Betty Broocks was a founder of a fundraising group formed by the wives of Rye Harbour’s lifeboat crew called ‘The Lifeboat Ladies’ (RNLI/KT Bruce)
Betty Broocks was a founder of a fundraising group formed by the wives of Rye Harbour’s lifeboat crew called ‘The Lifeboat Ladies’ (RNLI/KT Bruce)

A 90-year-old with “boats in her blood” has been praised for dedicating more than half her life to supporting a lifeboat charity.

Betty Broocks was honoured by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) for her fundraising efforts in 2014 and has decided to retire after 55 years of dedication to the charity.

Mrs Broocks, who has been hailed as a “champion fundraiser” by the RNLI, is from Rye Harbour in East Sussex and started volunteering for the volunteer-run charity in 1966.

Mrs Broocks said she \u2018couldn\u2019t be more proud\u2019 to have lifeboats in her family\u2019s blood (RNLI/KT Bruce)

She was born in the village 90 years ago, a few years after the 1928 lifeboat disaster – when the village’s only lifeboat capsized, killing all 17 crew members.

Decades after the accident, she began fundraising when her husband Terry became one of the first volunteers on the village’s new lifeboat.

As lifeboats at that time were smaller and less equipped, Mrs Broocks, then a mother of two young children, worried about his safety.

She soon became a founder of a small fundraising group made up of the crew’s wives, called The Lifeboat Ladies.

The Lifeboat Ladies started by raising money for the crew’s wellies and later anything the team required.

Mrs Broocks has been given the title \u2018President of all the Fundraisers\u2019 at the Harbour so she can remain as part of the team (RNLI/KT Bruce)

After a few years the group disbanded but Mrs Broocks stayed on and has been supporting RNLI Rye Harbour ever since.

She said she “couldn’t be more proud” to have lifeboats in her family’s blood, as her grandson Jai joined the RNLI at 17 and now works as a full-time crew member at Tower RNLI Lifeboat Station on the Thames.

Her grandfather, her mother and her brother had all previously been involved with the Harbour lifeboats.

When honoured by the RNLI in 2014, Mrs Broocks was invited to the Barbican to receive a gold badge for all her years of commitment.

While retiring from her fundraising efforts this year, Mrs Broocks has been given the title “president of all the fundraisers” at the Harbour so she can remain part of the team.

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