There are plenty of gift guides being written at this time of year, and I’ve had the plan of writing this particular one for a while now, since I discovered that the RNLI have an excellent online shop. This way, you can get some fabulous gifts for young and old, for Christmas or any other occassion, while supporting an amazing charity at the same time!
Why the RNLI?
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is a charity which we’ve come into contact with quite a few times since our move back to the UK (from Sweden) almost two years ago. As you probably know if you’ve read a few of my other posts, water is something that Penguin has a great love for in many ways, as do I. We love boats, swimming and baths, as well as watching various kinds of water features, and Penguin also really enjoys watching videos of waterslides on YouTube. A fascination with water is not uncommon in persons with autism, and I’ve written a little bit about it before in this post about The Wonders of Water (link opens in new window).
As we all know, enjoying all the fun that water can offer also comes with risks, and the RNLI does a wonderful job in educating about these risks and how to minimise them, as well as rescuing people in need at sea, all around the coasts of Britain. We have visited a few of their lifeboat stations in our region, seen some quite impressive displays, and learnt about the work they do.
The Mary Stanford Disaster
There’s also a very touching piece of local history for us regarding the RNLI, which I was reminded about again last week, as it happened 90 years ago: On the 15 November 1928, 17 men of the RNLI went out on the Mary Stanford lifeboat, from Rye Harbour, early in the morning. They’d been called out to rescue the crew of a vessel who’d had an emergency near Dungeness, and the weather conditions were terrible. Not long after they’d set off from Rye Harbour, a message came in that the crew they’d gone out to save had already been rescued by another ship. The attempts to get that message through to the men on the Mary Stanford failed, and tragically she capsized and all 17 of the men on board drowned. This is one of the worst disasters in the history of the RNLI.
Here’s a newspaper article from the other day, marking 90 years since the tragedy.
The old Mary Stanford boathouse still sits on the coast of the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, where we visit now and then. There’s also a new RNLI station in the harbour. And in Winchelsea, not far from us, there are stained glass windows in the church which commemorate the crew of the Mary Stanford.
RNLI Gift Guide
So, to hopefully contribute in some small way to the important work of the RNLI, and to honour the memory of the Mary Stanford crew, here are a few ideas for gifts which I think could interest others who share our love of water, boats and sealife!
(All photos of products below are taken from the rnlishop.org website. We haven’t been sponsored in any way to write this gift guide and will not profite ourselves from any purchases made through the links from this page.)
Dominoes is one of the type of games that work well for us to play, as Penguin has a very strong visual sense and is great at matching and remembering things visually. This little box of Wooden Ocean Dominoes (£6) looks really sweet!
Another ‘fishy’ game is this classic Magnetic Fishing Game (£10). Great for motor skills practise, and I really like the retro style design. There are a few other beautiful looking classic games available from the same manufacturer (House of Marbles), such as a Ludo game with a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party theme!
Another classic activity which exercises hand-eye coordination is jigsaws, and if you do them together they can also be a fun way to work on joint attention and vocabulary. In the RNLI shop you can find many different jigsaws with mostly marine motifs. One of my favourites would be this Ocean Selfies Jigsaw Puzzle (48 pieces, £10), which has a “polypropylene lens” surface creating a 3D effect.
For those who want a larger amount of pieces to their puzzles, there’s an Atlantic 85 Inshore Lifeboat 3D Puzzle with 63 pieces (£6), or a 250 piece jigsaw with an atmospheric evening scene of “Harbour Lights” (£10). For the really advanced puzzle person, there’s a cool 1000 piece jigsaw, picturing rescue services in action by the sea (£12.95).
For getting outdoors and exploring the seaside, this Let’s Look on the Seashore sticker book (£5) with facts, photos and detailed illustrations looks like a good one for early learners!
To be able to keep notes whatever the weather (or if you always have your best ideas in the bath!), a Waterproof Notebook (£13) could be very helpful. And to keep track of the time and the tide, there are Time & Tide Clocks such as this (£39.95)
To get the whole family outside more, whether by the coast or furhter inland, this Let Your Kids Go Wild Outside book (£12.99) by Fiona Bird seems brilliant!
Although we love the seaside at any time of the year, it’s not always so tempting in all weathers. While the freezing winds are blowing outside, there are (in my opinion) few things more enjoyable than a hot bath. So fill up the tub, and let Hovercraft Harry and Rescue Boat Bob (bath toys, £10 each) join you!
For some craftsy indoor fun with a flavour of the seaside, how about a 4M Mould & Paint Sea Life Kit (£10)?
Add some playsand (we love Kinetic Sand!) and a stylish Quickbuild VW Camper Van (£15), and you can start dreaming of sunny days by the beach…
If you’ve got a Corgi collector in the family, there are two lifeboat models available, as well as a Corgi RNLI Land Rover Defender and D Class Lifeboat Diecast Model (£10).
For some hands-on learning about how water can be cleaned, desalinated and disinfected using various methods, check out this little 4M Clean Water Science kit (£14).
For the RNLI supporter with a sweet tooth, there’s a mouthwatering gift set (£25), and for Christmas the website has a separate section offering hampers, cards, gift bags and decorations, such as these three (wise??) crabs (£10) 😀
There are also some less seasonal, sealife themed decorative items available from the RNLI. Personally, I really like the colours, shapes and textures of these Sea Urchin Candle Holders which come in three different sizes (£8-£22).
Some of the smaller items from the RNLI shop could make really nice stocking fillers. How about some retro fun with Tiddlywinks (£4), or a Squishy Mesh Ball (£3.50) for a relaxing sensory experience? (A word of warning though about squishy things like these: They contain a gel which is not meant to be ingested, so if you’ve got a biter & chewer like we do, they’re probably best to avoid. Penguin loves them, and we bought one for him last year, but it was just too tempting to bite into and it didn’t take long before he’d bitten through it.)
Finally, how could we not include this one: A felt tree ornament in the shape of a penguin in a life vest! They also do a purse and a small bag with the same cute motife 😉
Thank you reading, and I hope you’ve found som inspiration here for gifts which will not only benefit their recipients, but also the charity!
Before we go, here’s a video I found on YouTube about the Mary Stanford disaster and its crew. I found it very touching:
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