Saturday, October 17, 1998 Published at 06:06 GMT 07:06 UK
Blue Peter saves hundreds
Valerie Singleton launches one of the first lifeboats
Blue Peter viewers have helped to save more than 800 lives with their support for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
Donations of books, buttons and old brooches to the children's programme, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary, have raised enough money to buy 21 lifeboats.
At a birthday dinner, Lieutenant Commander Brian Miles, director of the RNLI, said: "Your ability to inspire whole generations of young and not so young viewers has made you without question the RNLI's single most influential supporter over four decades.
"Long may you flourish and long may we remain friends."
The programme's association with the charity began in 1966 with the first lifeboat appeal, where children collected paperbacks - enough to buy four boats.
"And I am delighted that Blue Peter had the inspiration to choose to support the RNLI all those years ago."
Blue Peter stars of yesteryear rolled back the years on Friday by returning to the BBC One show for a live celebration on its 40th anniversary.
Others who sent messages of support to the programme included Elton John, Rolf Harris and teenage pop stars Cleopatra.
Vintage clips, including the 1969 incident in which a baby elephant ran amok in the studio, were aired.
To round off the show they sang a chorus of Happy Birthday and cut a cake.
TV and Radio