Boris Johnson is special guest for London Lifeboat Week
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, paid a visit to Chiswick lifeboat crew members today (May 2nd) to learn more about their life-saving work on the River Thames.
The Mayor dropped in on the crew based at Chiswick Pier to meet with RNLI volunteers and to help shine a spotlight on the charity’s biggest annual fundraising event, London Lifeboat Day.
As well as hearing from the crew about some of their more high profile rescues – such as a mother who entered the River Thames to save her toddler after she fell into the water – the Mayor donned a lifejacket and climbed aboard one of the E-class Mk II lifeboats to go afloat and see for himself what a lifeboat crew member’s duties entail.
Boris Johnson’s visit marked the conclusion of the charity’s London Lifeboat Week, a five day period of fundraising, whose highlight was London Lifeboat Day. Hundreds of volunteer collectors were out in force in London to collect the public donations that keep London’s lifeboats running.
Since London lifeboat stations were established in 2002 they have launched a total of 8,023 times and rescued 2,713. Within those, 398 were classed as lives saved, specific criteria for the charity where, if it were not for the lifeboat’s involvement, the person would have died. The RNLI also works closely with other emergency services and the Port of London Authority.
With ever-growing numbers of passengers and freight taking to the river, the Mayor discussed how the RNLI’s London lifeboat crews will become more and more crucial to safety in years to come. He and Transport for London launched a river action plan in February 2013 to increase passenger journeys on the Thames to 12m a year by 2020 and maximise its potential for river travel.
Boris Johnson praised the RNLI for the work and said said: “ Thanks to the brave actions of RNLI crews and volunteers, hundreds of lives have been saved and countless more rescued fromm danger"
Wayne Bellamy, Chiswick RNLI lifeboat station manager, said: ‘We’re delighted to welcome the Mayor of London to Chiswick and there couldn’t be a more apt time to come and see what we do than in London Lifeboat Week. Only one in six people are aware we even have London lifeboats, yet in 2013 the three stations rescued 372 people from the River Thames.
"Our service is funded entirely by donations from the public and with numbers on the river set to grow we’re keen to keep raising our profile. The team and I are therefore delighted that someone like Boris, who’s so symbolic of the capital, was genuinely interested to find out more about this often-hidden, but essential service.’
May 2, 2014