Worried that the world will get constantly worse people have started to say that the standard you are prepared to tolerate is the standard you get. If, instead, we aspire for the world to get constantly better then we should expect that the standard we get is the one we make an effort to celebrate.
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution operates the bulk of life boat services in the UK, Ireland and the Isle of Man from stations all around the coast. They save around 23 lives at sea, and on the coast, every day. They fit the word “heroes” perfectly.
The RNLI is also the UK’s most widespread and enduring example of a voluntarily run service. It is operated by volunteers and funded by charitable donations. Many of the other lifeboat services in the UK operate the same way. In short, the RNLI is a symbol of what it is possible to organise outside of political control, and without taxpayer funding. It is something every libertarian should educate themselves about and value highly.
Alex Ellis-Roswell is a former member of the Libertarian Party and the son of Sir Raymond Ellis. After Sir Raymond died from a long battle with illness his son was inspired to fight his own battle for the RNLI. Alex set off from Minnis Bay in August 2014 and has walked the south coast of England, the coast of Devon and Cornwall, Wales, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Cumbria, Scotland, the Shetlands, the East Coast of England, around Norfolk, up and down the Thames, the Isle of Sheppey, and finally back into Kent and Minnis Bay. That is a grand total of 9,500 miles, over a period of three and half years. He finished his journey this Saturday 11th November and was greeted as a hero.
I drove down the Minnis Bay with my wife and three year old son. My son was born just a few days before Alex set off. He can now spell out three letter words, write his name, run, catch a ball, demand another episode of Octonauts, and can name his favourite sea creatures. It is amazing to think that Alex has been putting one foot after another on the same journey for my son’s entire life, and all in aid of an institution which is one of the finest things in British life. It is literally awesome.
Stopping to celebrate this epic achievement did not feel like something which was optional. Once you have stopped to think this through then it is not something which you can reasonably say you were too busy to do. So off we went, arriving at the finish point over an hour before Alex was due. We set off to find him and walk back to the finish line with him. I was glad to be part of a crowd of people who all felt as I did.
A lady gave out RNLI flags. Drummers waited in shirt-sleeves in the freezing wind to help carry him home with the rhythm of their music. The mayor turned up. People had phones out. Photographers and cameramen buzzed around. Lifeboat crew in uniform, or RNLI fleeces or in bright-yellow all-weather gear marched behind him. I fell back behind them, knowing my place. There was spontaneous applause as the group met crowds of hundreds gathered at the finish line who gave a well-practiced three cheers. The Scouts and Sea Cadets lined up and saluted . Alex’s mum pulled him over and gave him a massive well-photographed hug.
The atmosphere was electric. So many had made an effort to come and acknowledge the epic scale of what this guy had done.
The standard was set that bit higher this weekend.
Our plan to support Alex as a group is detailed here: