RNLI River Rescue Service Unknown To Most Londoners

Survey shows many don't realise it is an emergency river service

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Only 1 in 6 Londoners able to name RNLI as the emergency service on the River Thames

The finding comes on the eve of the lifesaving charity’s ‘London Lifeboat Day’, its biggest fundraising event of the year in Greater London, which takes place on Tuesday 1 May.

10 years after the Royal National Lifeboat Institution set up a search and rescue service on the River Thames in the wake of the Marchioness disaster, only one in six Londoners is able to spontaneously name the RNLI as an emergency service operating on the capital’s river, a recent survey has shown

The statistic is surprising given that the four RNLI lifeboat stations on the Thames have rescued more than 2,600 people since they were established. Furthermore Tower lifeboat station by Waterloo Bridge is the charity’s busiest lifeboat station in the entire United Kingdom and is visible to thousands of people every day.

The study, carried out by online market research agency YouGov, showed that out of 1,137 Londoners questioned, only 16 per cent named the RNLI when asked to spontaneously list the emergency services operating on the part of the River Thames that flows through London.

The survey aimed to establish the level of public awareness in London of the RNLI’s four Thames lifeboat stations at Tower, Chiswick, Teddington and Gravesend.

The annual London Lifeboat Day aims to raise the funds that are necessary to ensure the charity’s livesaving missions can continue. It takes place tomorrow (Tuesday 1 May) when RNLI fundraisers will be collecting at mainline train and tube stations across Greater London.

Andrew Ashton, RNLI Divisional Inspector, said: ‘As a charity that relies on public donations to be able to launch lifeboats to assist people in distress, public awareness is crucial to us. This study showed that just one in six Londoners is aware that the RNLI even operates on the Thames, despite the fact that last year Tower lifeboat launched 522 times and assisted a total of 89 people. Furthermore, Chiswick lifeboat launched 228 times and assisted 111 people.’

The survey also found that just over two thirds-67 per cent of respondents – felt that the RNLI should provide a lifeboat service on the River Thames. Andrew continued: ‘It is encouraging that people recognise the value of the RNLI and the contribution we make to making London a safer place, but ultimately we can only do that with the continued support of donors.

Our fundraisers and the majority of RNLI lifeboat crew members are volunteers who are only able to launch at the drop of a hat because of the donations that the public make. Any support people can give us on the day will be hugely appreciated.’

The RNLI’s London Lifeboat Day takes place from 7am until 7pm when collectors will be based at more than 50 train stations across London.


April 30, 2012