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Chiswick lifeboat crew celebrated a major milestone today when they carried out their 2,000th rescue mission since the Royal National Lifeboat Institution began operating on the River Thames.

The crew, made up of full time staff and volunteers, launched the lifeboat after reports of a woman in the river between Chiswick and Hammersmith.

This brings the number of rescue missions to 2,000 since the lifeboat station was established in January 2002. It also coincides with the tenth anniversary of the four lifeboat stations on the tidal reaches of the River Thames.

The crew were called at 8.36am today (23 February) by London Coastguard, who reported that a lone female had fallen from a tin fish boat into the river. The reports said the boat’s engine was still running and the vessel was travelling around in circles in the river.

The crew arrived to find the boat had come to a stop and the woman had swum to the south shore of the river, near St Paul’s School.

Glen Monroe, Helmsman of Chiswick lifeboat, explained more: ‘We were obviously concerned at the initial reports that the boat was going around in circles, as that would’ve posed a real threat to the woman in the water. Our concern was that she might be struck by it, which could have injured her or knocked her unconscious.

‘Fortunately, when we arrived on scene the boat had come to a stop, and the woman had swum to the shore. She was very well prepared, wearing appropriate clothing, boots, a buoyancy aid and a lifejacket, so she was more shocked than anything else.’

While another passing tin fish vessel collected her stranded tin fish, the lifeboat crew collected the woman and returned her safely to Latimer Rowing Club in Hammersmith.

The woman, named Constance Pidoux, said she was surprised to be at the heart of the 2,000th launch, adding: ‘From now on I will wear a kill cord so that if I ever fall from the boat again the engine will automatically cut out. Massive thanks to the crew for their prompt assistance. They were really friendly and helpful.’

Chiswick lifeboat station was established in 2002 along with stations at Teddington, Gravesend, and in central London below Waterloo Bridge.
In those ten years, Chiswick lifeboat crews have rescued 983 people who have been taken on board the lifeboat from the water, stranded by the falling or rising tide, or taken off disabled craft.

They also assisted many more people who remained in broken down vessels which have been towed; the total estimated value of craft assisted is approaching £10M.

Despite being the second busiest lifeboat station in the UK and Ireland throughout its ten year history, Chiswick RNLI has a surprisingly low profile in London; the lifeboat station works closely with the local fundraising group, which has grown from strength to strength and is currently raising over £30,000 a year through a range of collections and events.

Andrew Ashton, Divisional Inspector for the RNLI, congratulated the station and crew past and present when he said: ‘A huge congratulations and thank you to all the crew at the station. 2,000 launches is a significant number of rescue missions, and it falls quite neatly in their anniversary year. 2012 promises to be a very busy year for lifeboats on the Thames what with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant and the Olympics, so hopefully this will shine the spotlight on the work that the charity does.’

More helpers are always needed to assist in fundraising, which is the only source of income for RNLI's life saving services throughout the UK and Ireland.

February 23, 2012