Chiswick Lifeboat Crew On Pageant Duty

Our local RNLI station playing important role this Jubilee weekend

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Chiswick RNLI Lifeboat Station will play a vital role in helping to ensure spectators and participants have a safe and enjoyable Diamond Jubilee Pageant on Sunday (June 3).

Eleven volunteer crew members from our local station will be onboard the charity’s D-class and E-class inshore lifeboats during the pageant, helping to ensure that participants and spectators stay safe, and ready to respond if anyone needs assistance.

The RNLI will use Chiswick Pier as one of its bases during Sunday. Their craft and crews will muster at Chiswick Pier, which will have at least 10 boats and 30 crew in place. On the Sunday between 12 noon and 6pm they will have a four minute rescue target in the core area.

Five lifeboats will travel with the pageant, another five or six will be stationed on the route ready for rescue work along the banks. The newest lifeboat, named Diamond Jubilee, will travel from Eastbourne to participate in the flotilla.

The eleven local crew members on duty that day are ; Steve Alexander, Rob Archibald, Craig Burn, Tony Coe, Jai Gudgeon, Glen Munroe, Ian Owen, Neil Robertson, Chris Walker, Mark Turrell and Chris Rose.

Mark Turrell said: ‘It’s a huge honour for us all to be involved in the RNLI presence on the day of the pageant. On a day-to-day basis we see and carry out rescues on a rather different stretch of the river to where the Pageant will be.’

L-R Jai Gudgion, Peter Knight, Mark Turrell of Chiswick RNLI

The Diamond Jubilee Thames Pageant will see 1,000 vessels making their way along the River Thames. The boats of all shapes and sizes will stretch for 12.5 miles along the river. There will be between 35,000 and 40,000 people on the river and up to 3 million spectators. And the BBC plan to use 70 sites, making it the largest outside broadcast ever.

The flotilla will be divided into five squadrons, on the basis of vessel type, and it will be punctuated between squadrons by barges playing live music. The rowers and dragon ships (270 in all) will go first.

Second will be the royal barges plus Commonwealth Heads of State and the Sea Cadets. Following will be a squadron of historic craft, then 180 recreational vessels and finally 90 Class 5 passenger boats. Downriver from London Bridge on the south bank larger vessels such as Thames barges will provide the so-called Avenue of Sail.

The scene at Chiswick Pier with lifeboats gathered there

Two-thirds of the boats are coming from outside London. The smaller vessels will muster in the river at specially installed moorings between Hammersmith and Battersea Bridges and the flotilla will start from Battersea. The Queen will embark at Chelsea at 3.00pm and sail to a vessel moored below Tower Bridge, from where she will watch the flotilla pass. The Queen and other members of the Royal Family will then be onboard the Royal Barge, The Spirit of Chartwell – the focal point of the flotilla.

In a recent talk given to the Chiswick Pier Trust, Wayne Bellamy, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) Station Manager in Chiswick, outlined the challenges faced by the RNLI on the day.

"The tide posed a potential problem for the Pageant,as it does for everyday rescues, since it runs so fast. Consequently, both the Barrier and Richmond Lock will be closed so that there will be no fast ebb tide and water levels will remain constant. The water will thus be relatively still for the pageant, moving at only half a knot, and much clearer than usual as the silt sinks to the river bed.

“The RNLI greatest anxieties are: people falling in the river; bridge strikes and fires breaking out on boats. A particular concern is that the clear, calm river water will encourage people to jump in and then find themselves in difficulties.” he added.

From 8am on Sunday 3rd June all RNLI crewmembers working during the flotilla will be being fed breakfast at Pissarro, Chiswick Pier.   The restaurant said it was delighted to be able to support the crews and the RNLI before they embark on such a huge operation.

Having spent the night in the neighbouring Chiswick pier house the crew from 13 different stations will be mustering at 8am for a full English-Pageant breakfast. Not just synonymous as a good spot to watch the boat race Chiswick Pier also plays host to one of the busiest lifeboat stations in the country as well as a thriving community of houseboat owners and a canoe club.  


Wayne Bellamy, station chief of Chiswick pier lifeboat station said, “The support of local businesses is invaluable at times like this and it is especially kind of Pissarro to offer their services on such an auspicious day. Their support has been crucial in ensuring everything is ready to go on the day. Quite simply without it our crews would be hungry and that wouldn’t do!”

Allen Head, RNLI Training Divisional Inspector (East), said: ‘I am delighted that the eleven crew members from Chiswick RNLI lifeboat station will be part of the Diamond Jubilee Thames Pageant, which celebrates the 60-year reign of RNLI Patron,The Queen. The RNLI has had lifeboats on the River Thames for more than a decade, so we have a wealth of experience and expertise.

‘The crews on the day will be a combination of coastal station volunteers and local Thames’ crews, which will provide the very best cover for Pageant participants and spectators alike.

Eastbourne’s new Tamar-class all-weather lifeboat, Diamond Jubilee, replaces the current all-weather lifeboat, which is almost 20 years old. Most of the £2.7M lifeboat has been funded by two generous legacies and other local fundraising efforts, but the RNLI still needs to raise over £400,000 to make up the full cost.

On the day of the Pageant, the crew onboard Diamond Jubilee will represent Eastbourne station, and the different countries and islands of the British Isles where the RNLI saves lives at sea.

For more information about how the RNLI is celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee – or to make a donation – visit

More information about the Queen’s Jubilee Pageant can be found at the website:

June 1, 2012