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Seven surprising gifts left to the RNLI

This content is sponsored by RNLI

This content is sponsored by RNLI

We’ve received some unusual gifts from generous donors over the years – showing that where there’s a Will, there’s a way to save lives at sea

Two vintage ferraris gift in will RNLI/Nathan Williams

Whether it was Harry Houdini leaving his wife a code to try and communicate from beyond the grave, William Shakespeare leaving Anne Hathaway his ‘second best’ bed or Napoleon Bonaparte leaving his close friends the hair from his shaved head, the history of strange bequests in Wills dates back over two millennia.

The RNLI has received some unusual gifts from donors over the years. Here are just a few:

1. Gold teeth

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Whether worn by pharaohs or Bond villains, gold teeth have long been the go-to dental accessory for the rich and famous. However, it’s possible that the gold gnashers left to the RNLI were the first of its kind to help save lives at sea.

2. A round of drinks

What better way to thank a selfless RNLI crew than by buying them a drink at the local bar? That’s exactly what one supporter did, leaving specific instructions in his Will to get a round in for Penlee lifeboat crew and other volunteers.

3. 100-year-old bottle of Cognac

Once upon a time, lifeboats were stocked with certain spirits to help revive or sustain casualties. It’s fitting then that, in Mary Sennett’s Will, the RNLI was left a bottle of 1914 F. Latour & Co Vieille Reserve Cognac with its original seal.

4. A pig farm

One generous donor left the RNLI a pig farm. After going to market, the piggy proceeds helped bring people in trouble at sea all the way home.

5. Piggy banks

The RNLI had another porcine bequest when one supporter left a gift that included a large collection of filled porcelain piggy banks.

6. A holiday home in the Canary Islands

When a donor left a holiday home in Tenerife, the eyes of lifeboat volunteers everywhere may well have lit up at the prospect of some sunshine. However, the holiday home wasn’t for topping up their tans, but for selling to fund more rescues.

7. Two vintage Ferraris

Four wheels aren’t usually what come to mind when you think of saving lives at sea. However, Richard Colton left two rare Ferraris to the RNLI in his Will that will help save lives for many years to come. The 1960 Ferrari 250 GT and 1967 Ferrari 275 sold for a staggering £8.5M. A chunk of the proceeds funded a new Shannon class lifeboat named after Richard and his wife.

From piggy banks and gold teeth to Ferraris, any gifts large or small, are incredibly important to the RNLI and fund six out of every ten lifeboat launches. After taking care of your loved ones, please consider leaving a gift to the RNLI in your Will.

Find out how to write or update your Will, or request our free Gifts in Wills guide here or call us on 0300 300 0124.

This content is sponsored by RNLI

Last modified: June 10, 2021

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