THE Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has launched an appeal to raise funds for a new station at Tower, the busiest RNLI lifeboat station in the UK.
Tower Lifeboat Station is located at Waterloo Bridge in the heart of London and has been open since 2002. Although many people think of the RNLI as a coastal charity, 5% of all launches take place on the Thames.
Tower Lifeboat Station has launched over 8,350 times, rescuing almost 2,000 people and saving 334 lives since it opened in 2002. The crew at Tower – which is made up of 55 volunteers and 10 full-time crew members – stay on the station in 12-hour shifts and are ready to launch within 90 seconds every day of the year.
The current station is old and cramped and floats on the river, rising and falling with each tide. The constant rocking and jolting has left the structure beyond economical improvement and has a considerable impact on the comfort of the crew. It also lacks the facilities that the crew need to give the best possible care to casualties, when the crew need to administer CPR urgently, there is no privacy from the general public. A brand new station will include modern facilities such as private, purpose-built spaces for casualty care, a drying room for kit and a new area for public engagement.
A new station would make a huge difference to the crew, who recently rescued Deven Vyas and his 10-month-old puppy Apollo on the Thames. Deven, 49, is a lawyer and lives in London.
Apollo was playing with a ball near Tower Bridge when he randomly jumped into the water below. At first, when Deven looked over the wall, he couldn’t see him and was terrified that Apollo hadn’t survived. Luckily, Apollo had managed to swim to a ledge, but he was scared and had started to panic. Deven was worried that he would be swept away and was desperate not to let that happen as his other dog, Eros, had died only a month before. He called 999 and asked for the coastguard, but Apollo started to panic while waiting, so Deven went into the Thames to rescue Apollo himself.
“The water was freezing. I managed to get to Apollo and found a railing to hold on to, but the water was filling up. All I could think about was getting us back to safety. Apollo is only 10 months old, he is far too young to die in such a horrific way.”
Deven waited in the icy Thames for Tower Lifeboat crew to arrive on the scene. He had no idea how long he would have to wait before help arrived and was scared that Apollo might jump back into the water. He didn’t have to wait long before the crew arrived at the scene, and they were both rescued. It was a surreal moment for Deven. He had just gone for a casual walk with Apollo that evening and didn’t expect to get into a life and death situation.
“Tower Lifeboat crew were brilliant. They were calm, quick, professional, and caring. Without them, Apollo wouldn’t be here today. I know the crew desperately need a new station to continue doing their lifesaving work. Please support them by donating anything you can to the appeal. The service they provide is invaluable, and what they do cannot be underestimated. Me and my dog probably would not be here without them rescuing us on that fateful evening.”
The crew at Tower need a new station that is fit for the future. Holly McGlinchey, 26, from East London, has been part of the crew at Tower Lifeboat Station for four years after being inspired by the amazing work that they do. Whilst working for Thames Clipper, the captain of her boat was alerted to a man in the water. They arrived on the scene and tried to help pull up the casualty who was unconscious in a life-ring, but their boat was too high. Crew from Tower quickly arrived on the scene, and Holly saw them rescue the man and give him first aid.
“I joined the crew at Tower after seeing the incredible work that they do first-hand. Watching them rescue someone was so emotional. After seeing it, I knew I wanted to join the team.
“Now that I’m on the crew, I love being part of the team and am so proud of the vital work that we do. But we need to carry on doing our lifesaving work in a station that is fit for the future. Our current station is old, cramped and lacks the proper facilities that we need. Please donate to our appeal so that we can have the station we deserve.”
The RNLI has launched an appeal to raise funds for a new lifeboat station at Tower, which will be running until Sunday, 3 October 2021. For more information or to donate, please visit: rnli.org/towerstation.