Whitby Coxswain Henry Freeman wearing a cork lifejacket circa 1877 and a fisherman wearing a personal flotation device todayPhoto: (on the right) RNLI/Nigel Millard
Whitby Coxswain Henry Freeman wearing a cork lifejacket circa 1877 and a fisherman wearing a personal flotation device today

Following the success of Captain Ward’s cork lifejacket for lifeboat crews, most notably in saving the life of Henry Freeman when the Whitby lifeboat capsized in 1861, the RNLI made a version available at a low price for merchant ships.

The recent initiative between the RNLI and commercial fishing industry partners to distribute personal flotation devices to fishermen echoes this earlier scheme.