The Bristol Distinguished Address Series: Paul Boissier, Chief Executive, Royal National Lifeboat Institution

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Start Date: 18 Mar 2015

Start Time: 6:00 PM

End Time: 9:00 PM

Duration: 3 hours

Venue: UWE Exhibition & Conference Centre, Frenchay Campus, Bristol

Keeping the Lifeboats Afloat

The RNLI reached its 190th birthday last year. During those years the charity has saved over 400,000 lives in the waters around the British Isles which are some of the most dangerous and unpredictable stretches of coastline in the world. Today we save 400 lives each year and rescue, help and assist about 30,000 more.

This is an indispensable public service provided by a much-loved charity. The vital, life-saving work of the RNLI is performed by 40,000 people across the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland – people who raise funds, provide all the support and infrastructure that the service needs, create the public profile, man the lifeboats and the lifeguard units, man a raid response flood rescue service and increasingly deliver an overseas water safety and prevention service in areas of the world where drowning is an everyday threat to community life.

The RNLI works with a strange business model. Of the £160m annual turnover, only £3m comes from public funding – a small stipend paid by local authorities for the beach lifeguarding service that we provide. The remainder comes from the generosity of the public. And of the 35,000 people who give up their time, their emotion, their sleep and sometimes their safety for the benefit of complete strangers who may find themselves at risk on the water, only 1,300 (about 3.5%) are paid – the remainder are volunteers.

Paul Boissier became Chief Executive of the RNLI 5 years ago, after a lifetime's service in the Royal Navy. Recognising that the RNLI needed to modernise if it was to survive for the next 190 years, he instigated a Continuous Improvement programme based on Lean thinking across the entire business. This has had an extraordinary on the financial health, the culture, the thinking and the creativity of the Institution.

In this evening's talk, he will outline the work that the organisation performs day after day around the coast of the British Isles. He will then take you on a private journey – his journey – of the last 5 years as Chief Executive of this organisation. The shocking realisation that the RNLI was not flawless; building a plan, a team and a robust methodology for change as the country passed through the most serious economic downturn in living memory. The triumphs and disasters. Where we are today, and our new, ambitious strategy – which brings a different set of challenges in its wake as we restructure the organisation to meet some incredibly demanding long-term goals.

•18:00 - Registration and refreshments
•18:30 - Lecture
•19:30 - Networking and supper


  • Free event
  • Refreshments provided

Enquiries contact

Questions about this event should be addressed to Corporate Relations Service at or by telephone on 0117 3285801.

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