PHOTO GALLERY: Norfolk crowds help raise money for rescue charity RNLI on SOS Day

The dedication and bravery of the people behind a rescue charity which has helped save more than 139,000 lives since it started almost two centuries ago was marked in Norfolk today by an annual fund-raising event.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) staged its SOS - Save Our Souls - day across the country, raising vital funds to continue providing 24-hour lifeboat search and rescue services and seasonal lifeguards around the coast.

Crowds turned out to enjoy some big events in Norfolk and Waveney.

In Cromer, a Soup or Scones day took place at the Community Centre on Garden Street from 11.30am to 4pm.

People were invited to the 'Savour Our Soup' or 'Scoff Our Scones' event, in keeping with the SOS theme.

Chairman of Cromer Ladies Lifeboat Guild Beryl Mansell, helped to co-ordinate the event and said it has gone 'really well'.

'It's such a good event,' she added.

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'Because we can hold it locally in the town, plenty of people have been able to join in. We even had some people who stayed for a few hours.'

RNLI Henry Blogg museum manager Jacqui Palmer, also helped to co-ordinate the event and explained why this year funds are needed more than ever.

'Volunteer lifeboat crews will be receiving brand new lifejackets this year,' she said.

'Everyone has put in their own time for SOS day in Cromer this year. We've had homemade soup, cupcakes and scones brought it. Every penny raised, counts.'

The lifejackets have been developed over a two-year process with input from volunteers to incorporate the latest material technology and the RNLI in the East Anglian region need to raise around �45,000 to fund them.

Also contributing to the same cause was volunteers from Lowestoft's lifeboat station on the town's south pier.

A steady stream of families made their way to the station to meet the volunteer lifeboatmen and dozens of youngsters were given the chance to strap-on boots and try on lifejackets, as well as stepping aboard the 23-year-old lifeboat - the spirit of Lowestoft.

The event also invited people to absorb the stories of the men who shaped the town's RNLI history, with a special DVD and exhibition.

Volunteer lifeboatmen Paul Whomersley said the weekend helped raise awareness for the charity.

The marine biologist, of Bungay, said: 'We operate all through donations, and this day allows the people who do donate to see what their money goes towards.'

Mike Richford, press officer for the RNLI in Lowestoft, added: 'It was great to see so many children come down and look over the lifeboat today.

'Children are our future and its important for them to see what the lifeboat service, the volunteer helpers, and the crew do.'

In other parts of the region there were a number of private events, including a 'Sample Our Soup' event in Heacham, a coffee morning in King's Lynn, an afternoon tea in Norwich and a 'Sailor Or Seadog' event in Sidestrand.

There was also an SOS car wash in Great Yarmouth.

Southwold Lifeboat did not stage an SOS day this year but hopes to run one again in 2013.

• For more information about RNLI SOS day contact the regional office on 0207 620 7400 or visit

• If you were at an RNLI event and took a photo or filmed a video then why not share it with us at