VOLUNTEERS who have given a combined 110 years’ service to help save lives at sea have been given a rare award.

Three members of the Haslingden Ladies’ Guild have been awarded the prestigious Royal National Lifeboat Institution Gold Award.

Pat Harrison, Pat Fisher and Anita Collinge have given between 30 and 40 years each to the institution. They have never known anyone else to qualify for the award.

It is only granted to volunteers who have given both long service and also succeeded in a variety of fund-raising roles.

The ladies have now been invited to lunch at the Barbican Centre in London in May, where the award will be presented by a member of the Royal Family.

Chairman Anita Collinge said that they were all very proud to have been honoured in this way.

The youngest of the trio, aged 65 she has given 30 years to fundraising for the charity. Pat Harrison, who joined in her 40s, and Pat Fisher, in her 50s, have given approximately 40 years each.

Mrs Collinge said: “When you meet the coxswain and the crew and you realise how wonderful they all are. You see how important it is to keep on supporting them. They risk their lives to save people at sea and they always say thank you to us, though it is we who should be thanking them.

“We are an active committee, with 17 members, which has raised thousands of pounds for the RNLI and is continuing to raise funds for this worthy charity.

“We already have a varied programme of events planned for 2014.

“I never thought I would stay so long but I love it. I don’t know where the years have gone.”

Chloe Shore, community fundraising manager, said: “It is a massive achievement for a volunteer to get a gold medal. They don’t come easily and are only given for outstanding service to the RNLI.

“The three ladies from Haslingden Guild have worked exceptionally hard over the years to support the cause and raise money in aid of saving lives at sea.

“It is a rare occurrence for three members of the same branch to receive this award as it is not something we give to all our volunteers.

“It is well deserved and they should all be very proud.”