YESTERDAY the beloved institution that is the RNLI marked its 200th anniversary, however we also discovered further love in the air when we met two of the crew at the lifeboat station in Penarth who are now engaged.

The RNLI was established on Thursday, March 4, 1824 and the Penarth RNLI Lifeboat station was established in 1861, and not only is it a beacon of assurance and safety on our coastlines, it’s also a place to find love…

Nicky Anderson, 41, and Ben Evans, 36, met at Penarth's RNLI when Nicky joined around three years ago and they are now engaged.

Mr Evans popped the question in August last year and in a beautiful tribute to the RNLI the ring he presented Ms Anderson with has a Class 85 boat engraved inside the band.

Barry And District News: To celebrate 200 years of the RNLI, the Penarth crew towed a lifeboat through the townTo celebrate 200 years of the RNLI, the Penarth crew towed a lifeboat through the town (Image: Newsquest)

Mr Evans and Ms Anderson looked loved up when we met them at the station yesterday, March 4, and when I asked Ms Anderson, originally from Oxfordshire, what the benefits were joining the RNLI, apart from finding your future husband, she said it’s like joining a family.

“I came past the station one day and said can I join and they were really helpful,” said Ms Anderson.

“It really is like a family and since then I have met my fiancée Ben.”

Barry And District News: Nicky and Ben found love at Penarth's lifeboat stationNicky and Ben found love at Penarth's lifeboat station (Image: Newsquest)

That family theme was something repeated by Kath Fisher, 46, a former RAF serviceperson and now a police officer.

She left the RNLI for ten years to pursue her career in the Air Force and said when she returned the same people were still manning the station – something she felt was a testament to the organisation.

“Why do I do it? To be a part of something,” said Ms Fisher. “Penarth is a brilliant community but this RNLI station is an extra special community within Penarth.”

Barry And District News: Kath Fisher left the RNLI for ten years then returnedKath Fisher left the RNLI for ten years then returned (Image: Newsquest)

Barry And District News: The team at Penarth RNLI stationThe team at Penarth RNLI station (Image: Newsquest)

‘I grew up with the station and I always had an interest in the RNLI, then you end up wanting to do something for someone else’

When we met mechanic Ben Phillips, 29, of the Barry RNLI team, he gave an emotional tribute to the service before our reporter Kasey Rees donned the famous RNLI rescue suit and had a taste of what it’s like being a volunteer.

Mr Phillips showed Kasey a practice drill of how to put on the suit in an emergency, before getting a tour of a weather lifeboat.

Barry And District News: Kasey with Ben Phillips at RNLI BarryKasey with Ben Phillips at RNLI Barry (Image: Newsquest)

On the RNLI, he said: “I grew up with the station, I have been coming down here since I was a kid, and I always had an interest in it and then you end up wanting to carry on and do something for something else.

“It's hard sometimes, when you are about to sit down and eat a Chinese you have one mouthful before being called out to an emergency.

“It’s always nice for me to get emails saying that they’ve confirmed the shout and that a life was saved, and it makes you feel good and that’s why I do it.”

The two stations in the Vale have launched 3,558 times and saving 515 lives. Long live the RNLI!

The RNLI is always looking for volunteers in a number of roles. If you want to join, go to the RNLI website and visit the volunteering section.