A stunning installation of 181 pairs of yellow wellies appeared alongside the River Thames today. The boots represent the average number of people rescued by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) charity every single week across the UK & Ireland.
The activity marks the start of the RNLI’s 2019 Mayday fundraising campaign, which this year is supported by Dermot O’Leary, Nadia Sawalha and Jane Devonshire, among other famous faces.
All money raised will fund kit for RNLI lifeboat crews. There are 4,900 volunteer crew members supporting 238 lifeboat stations across the UK & Ireland, all on standby to drop everything in an instant to save lives on waterways and at sea. In 2018 these crews launched 8,964 times, aiding 9,412 people – an increase of 17% from 2017. RNLI London lifeboat crews alone launched 902 times, rescuing 241 people in 2018.
Gianna Saccomani, Crew Member and Deputy Lifeboat Press Officer at Teddington RNLI explained:
“It’s amazing to see the number of people we’ve rescued across the UK & Ireland represented by this installation – it makes me very proud to be a volunteer crew member. We really do rely on our kit to protect us from the extreme conditions we face on the river during rescues, so I hope seeing all the wellies together, and knowing they represent someone like them, inspires people to get involved with the RNLI’s Mayday campaign to help fund the wellies, lifejackets and helmets we need – after all no one knows when they might need our help.”
The RNLI’s Mayday campaign runs throughout May and aims to raise £700,000 to fund lifesaving kit. It currently costs £2,161 to provide one all-weather lifeboat crew member with the kit they need – the specialist layered clothing and yellow wellies cost £1,265, a lifejacket costs £458, a safety helmet £263, pager £150, and safety gloves £25.
Claire Cardwell, RNLI Community Fundraising Manager for London said:
“The installation is a sobering reminder of what our RNLI volunteer lifeboat crews do week in week out – they literally drop whatever they are doing and race to save lives when they get a call for help. The least they can expect is the best kit possible to protect them against the extreme conditions they face. The Mayday national fundraising event is our own call for help, as we rely on the generosity of the public to fund the entire lifesaving service, including the vital kit that helps keep the crews safe when they risk their lives for others.”
The RNLI is asking the public to get creative and Go Yellow throughout the month of May to help fundraise. The charity is encouraging people to sign up for a fundraising pack at RNLI.org/mayday and show their support by joining the conversation online using the hashtags #MaydayEveryDay and #YellowWellyRelay.
The yellow wellies from the installation will be available in exchange for a small donation at The Barrowboy & Banker, London Bridge, from 10am-5pm on Thursday 2nd May.