Staithes family 'proud' of saving lives at sea with RNLI for 140 years

Colin Harrison Junior and his twins Katarina and Alex are the latest generations to put their lives on the line to help others in Staithes. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

For one North Yorkshire family, saving lives at sea has been a way of life for more than 140 years.

Several generations of the Harrisons have played their part for the community of Staithes as volunteers for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

Just north of Whitby, the seaside town of Staithes has a long history associated with the sea. At the heart of that is the Staithes and Runswick lifeboat station.

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the RNLI. The Harrison family's contribution alone has covered 70% of its existence.

Colin Harrison Junior, who joined when he was 16, told ITV News: "Knowing we’ve been part of that as a family for a large part of that 200 years is very special, and within the community of Staithes it’s nice to know that we’ve been involved in something that is a major part of the village."

In 1924 the Princess Clementine was wrecked off the coast of Staithes, with every crew member rescued by the town’s lifeboat volunteers.

It was incidents like this which drew the Harrison family in. William Brown Harrison initially joined in the 1880s.

Isaac Ward Harrison and Colin Harrison Senior Credit: Family photographs

He was followed by his son Isaac Ward Harrison, before Isaac’s son and Colin Harrison Senior signed up.

As the RNLI celebrates its bi-centenary Colin Harrison Senior's son, who is also called Colin, and his twins Katarina and Alex are the latest generations to put their lives on the line to help others.

After 40 years, Colin Harrison Junior showed his two children the ropes after they followed suit and expressed a desire to volunteer for the organisation too.

Colin Junior said: "When they’re out in the dark and my wife is texting me asking me 'are the children ok,' I think well I won’t worry her I’ll just trust that they’re ok."

The crews at Staithes and Runswick have saved hundreds of lives throughout their history and the Harrison family say they will continue to head out into the unknown.

Both Katarina an Alex volunteer alongside studying at university, patrolling the seas as their ancestors once did.

"Watching my dad go to sea on dark nights not knowing when he was going to come back but knowing they were out there saving lives was nerve-wracking but admirable," said Katarina.

Staithes is a North Yorkshire seaside village just north of Whitby Credit: ITV News Calendar

Her brother Alex added: "I think he’s very proud and he does tell us that, but after all it’s 140 years of history and the RNLI has existed for 200 now.

"If I was around here in the village and had children I would want them to be a part of the RNLI and would love for them to volunteer."

Colin continued: "The last call out we had here I went out with Alex which was a very proud moment and it was only after we were coming back I thought oh this is nice. It was a really proud moment.

"It was nice thinking well the RNLI is coming up 200 years and that’s the future and we’re going to be part of it."

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