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Every day it goes about its job efficiently, silently and, in part, unknown. No banner waving, no getting Boris to make a big show and sound off on its behalf, just a dedicated service that some people are very glad is there – the Tower Branch of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution – Tower RNLI in short.

This may come as a surprise to most Londoners it did to me when I first heard of it. But think! the Thames is a very busy river and accidents do happen – the accident between the Marchioness and the dredger Bowdelle which resulted in 51 deaths in 1989. This tragedy brought home to people just how busy the river is – then in 2002 a lifeboat station was established at Tower Pier. The boat used for this work is an E-Class lifeboat which does 40 knots began its service on the 2nd January that year, and the new arrangements for search and rescue for the tidal reaches of the Thames came into operation at the same time.

It probably seems a strange statement, but Tower Lifeboat Station at Waterloo Bridge is also the charity’s busiest station. London has four stations in all Tower, Chiswick, Teddington and Gravesend. Tower RNLI like the other stations is manned by three people, the crew consists of two full-time and one member who in true to tradition is a volunteer. Thus enabling the boats to arrive at any incident within 15 minutes.

I have written about the RNLI before and cannot say enough good things in its favour. The sea-going Stations are manned mostly by volunteers who without thought for their safety go out in all weathers to save those in peril or just those who have misjudged the sea. I know some of these people from when we were sailing I have fond memories of some very brave people.

But it is stations like Tower RNLI working on our tidal rivers that are often forgotten. There may not be the drama of big seas, but a strong flowing river is just as dangerous if not more so. Here they are rescuing people who use the river for pleasure, such as rowers who have capsized, they have saved 250 lives – 250 people plucked from a watery death. THANK YOU!

They have a special certificate framed and signed by Surgeon Rear Admiral F Golden along with the Chief Executive. This was presented to Helmsman Mike Sinacola, Mechanic Michael Neild and Crew Member Will Lawrie for the first rescue which was carried out on 2nd of May 2004, involving a seriously injured woman and witnessed by a shocked crowd of onlookers.

 

The names of the other heros in the story are Ray and Audrey Lusty, Legacy and Hurley Burley, the boats. As we are aware The RNLI is a charity that relies on public donations in order to be able assist people in distress. In these times of hardship public awareness is crucial, these people help you – look after them London.

©Michael Douglas Bosc
(Author of A Loving Son & A Caring Killer)

Photographs via kind permission of Thames RNLI

 

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