CELEBRATED around the world sailor Dee Caffari MBE was among the guests of honour at Poole Lifeboat Station's open day on Sunday.

The event, part of the year of celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary of the station, welcomed the British sailor, who in 2006 became the first woman to sail single-handedly and non-stop around the world "the wrong way"; westward against the prevailing winds and currents.

She officially ended the station's Life Raft Challenge at 12noon - which had seen volunteer crew members, fundraisers and supporters take it in turns to do four-hour stints in the tiny life raft non-stop over 48 hours, in a bid raise awareness of the day's event, and everything the RNLI do.

Dee welcomed the last two volunteers - lifeboat operations manager Rod Brown and volunteer crew member Anne Millman - out of the raft back on to dry land with a spray of sparking wine, and shared with the watching crowds some of her personal feelings about the charity which saves lives at sea.

She said: "Knowing that, should the worst happen, these guys and galls are prepared to come out and help people like us is invaluable. The more support we can give them, the better."

She added: "It's very easy to take it for granted, but it wouldn't happen unless volunteers are prepared to give up their time and risk their their own personal safety for the safety of others. Day after day, 24 hours a day, over the whole of our coastal waters, the RNLI are doing exactly that."

The station on Poole Quay also welcomed actress Debra Stephenson to help launch its 'Message in a Bottle' fundraising initiative, supporting the 150 for 150 challenge which is inviting 150 businesses, groups and individuals to each raise £150 for the RNLI appeal.

The messages, written as though by Poole Lifeboat Station's original coxswain Richard Sutton-Stokes, rolled into glass bottles provided by Lush, will go out into the community to call people to support their local RNLI.

The day long free event also included stalls, entertainments and live demonstrations of rescues and lifesaving techniques.