Split image of NSRI member laying lollipop and zoomed image of lines of lollipops

In April 2022, the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal suffered devastating floods caused by days of heavy rainfall. Over 400 people were killed and thousands more were displaced.

Had it not been for the heroic efforts of South Africa’s NSRI (National Sea Rescue Institute), many more people would have lost their lives during the disaster.

The NSRI is a volunteer-led rescue organization that is on call 24/7. It was established in 1967, following the tragic loss of three fishing vessels near Stilbaai the previous year. Its formation was campaigned for by Patti Price, a teacher who had been rescued by the UK’s RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) in the English Channel when she was a child.

NSRI rescuers have incredible team spirit and communication, and as such, there was no one better to take on the challenge of creating the world’s longest line of lollipops.

NSRI members hand laying down a lollipop on the line

On 6 August 2022, 27 volunteers from NSRI Station 5 came together in the sweltering heat for the official record attempt on Durban Beachfront Promenade.

To achieve the record, the line had to be at least 9,999 lollipops long. Every single one had to be touching, so attention to detail was key. If any breaks were found in the line, however small they may be, the attempt would be failed.

Luthando Ngqulunga, a volunteer at NSRI Station 5, was extremely confident in his team’s ability to break the record.

"We do the most difficult work with saving lives, so laying down the lollipops will be just like a walk in the park," he said. "Plus we are very competitive in nature."

"We’re going to make ten-and-a-half thousand," predicted one team member.

The biggest threat to their success would be any strong winds that could blow the lollipops out of position.

First, they began by marking out a snaking line across the boardwalk on which the lollipops would lie.

Many members of the public stopped to watch what was happening and, over time, a considerable crowd amassed.

Stumbo lollipops laid in a snaking formation

After splitting into teams of two to tackle different sections, the NSRI volunteers made swift progress. They took just 90 minutes to lay out enough lollipops to set the record.

The record-breaking line consisted of 11,602 lollipops and stretched over 1km in length.

"The NSRI worked together brilliantly," noted official adjudicator Sofia Greenacre.

However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for them - at one point, a filming drone flew too low and nearly blew all the lollipops away. Luckily, the damage wasn’t too bad and the line was promptly fixed.

NSRI members stand in a group in front of longest line of lollipops

The line ended up being so long that our adjudicator required the assistance of five people to count it!

The lollipops will be distributed during the NSRI’s community events and school presentations. The NSRI’s Water Safety Education programme started in 2006 and focuses on teaching people in South Africa how to be safe in and around water.

This record attempt featured on episode 2 of Stumbo Record Breakers, which airs on e.tv every Sunday.