Our community

Our community is united by the sea, we are part of the RNLI family, we are part of the island community and the wider Orkney community. We are made up of the men and women united by the sea: crew members and their families, the women of the Lifeboat Guild, survivors, volunteers, donators and supporters.

Left: Robert Rattray Johnston and family


Benjamin Stout served 1874 – 1900 

John Swanson served 1900 – 1935

William Stewart Dass served 1935 – 1946

Alfred Johnston served 1946 – 1954

Daniel Kirkpatrick served 1954 – 1969

John Leslie served 1970 – 1988

Billy Budge served 1988 – 1999

Ian McFadyen served 1994 – 2002

Kevin Kirkpatrick served 2002 – 2022

Scott Johnston from 2022

Kevin Kirkpatrick welcomes Coxswain Scott Johnston

Crew members

The Longhope and Thurso Lifeboat crews at Brims, now the site of the museum.

Presentation bowl from the people of Longhope in Gloustershire, presented to Tony Trickett MBE, Chairman of the Longhope Lifeboat Museum Trust (2000-2013)

How two Longhopes are linked

The connection between the two villages began in 1964 when the son of the vicar, Rev Murray Penfold, in Longhope, Gloucestershire sent a postcard home and it was misdirected to the vicar in Longhope, Orkney. Over the next few years Rev Murray and the community set out raising funds for the Longhope lifeboat. 
After the Longhope Lifeboat Disaster in 1969 they supported the children of the lost crew and sent presents every Christmas and on each child’s birthday.

They continue to support the Longhope lifeboat and the museum to this day. 

Mr George Watkins of Longhope, Gloucestershire has been made a Patron of our museum in recognition of all the kindness and generosity their community has shown towards ours. 

As part of the commemoration of 50 years since the Longhope Lifeboat Disaster, the local choir sang A Thousand Miles Apart, a song that links the crews and families of those in Longhope and Penlee in Cornwall, who faced their own tragedy in December 1981 when their lifeboat Solomon Browne was lost with all hands.

Lifeboat Guild

On March 8 1960 a public meeting was held for the purpose of forming the Longhope Branch of the Ladies Lifeboat Guild. The first President elected was Mrs Jean Swanson, of  Oljaren, Melsetter.

In 2020, the Guild still going strong, celebrated its 60th Anniversary.

‘Presently we are delighted to have two men on board and we have changed the name to Longhope Lifeboat Guild.

The members are an amazing group of volunteers who work tirelessly raising funds for the RNLI. From serving cream teas, running the lifeboat shop, organising special days like Yellow Welly Day, Christmas Bazaars and they are often asked to do the catering for other organisations and clubs. Whatever the task, they always pull together as a happy team and perform like a well oiled machine. ‘

Kathleen McFadyen talks about the Lifeboat Guild and being a lifeboat family

‘Not having the yellow oilskins we often put on fancy dress at our Christmas parties for a bit of fun or at any other opportunity that arises! 

We have over 30 loyal members and Trish Avis has been our outstanding President for over 12 years. There is a strong supportive collaboration between the lifeboat crew and guild with both teams working together to save lives at sea.’

Celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Thomas McCunn (right)
and the 60th Anniversary of the Lifeboat Guild (below).

Volunteers, Donators & Supporters

We rely on a team of willing people to keep our museum open and in good order. Thank you to you all. If you would like to become a volunteer please contact us here. We are grateful to our wonderful staff and volunteers and our patrons. Find out more about our supporters here.

< John A Mowat restoring the Thomas McCunn.

Local school children wait to welcome our patron Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal

image credits: Mary Harris / Andy Fellows / Longhope Lifeboat Museum archives