A ‘Waterloo sunset’ would be a lovely way to catch sight of the Tower RNLI station – but it isn’t as easy as it sounds because it rises and falls several metres with the Thames tide.
The RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) is a charity founded in 1824 by Sir William Hillary and is dedicated to saving lives at sea. It operates some 235 stations and 350 boats around the coast of Great Britain, Ireland and the many islands, from the Shetlands in the north down to the Scilly and Channel islands in the south.
We actually pre-arranged a visit to this station and were welcomed and shown around with the understanding that if there was a ‘shout’ (call out) we should make ourselves scarce as the Tower Lifeboat must be underway within 90 seconds of the Coastguard’s Request to launch. In 2012, Tower RNLI launched 465 times, 240 times in darkness, assisting 239 people and saving 24 lives.
There are three other stations on the Thames including Gravesend, Chiswick and Teddington but Tower is the busiest in the whole of the country. The boats used here are different from others in the RNLI fleet and allow the crew to get quickly to someone in need.The RNLI prides itself on its volunteer ethos with over four and a half thousand crew and another forty thousand helpers, supporters and found raisers. To keep the RNLI afloat costs £4.50 a second.
Read this aloud and time yourself………..well ….how much?