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Welcome to the world of the Vincent D'Onofrio obsessed - and a bit of real life thrown in.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Lifeboat Ahoy!

When I was a child, we had yearly visits at primary school from the River Police. They had a flipchart of colour pictures showing the dangers of the River Thames - the dangerous muck you could cut yourself on and get blood poisoning, the current and the tides. A girl at my secondary school had a father in the River Police, and we were all shocked when he died in an accident while on duty.

I'm not sure exactly when they lost their rescue function, to revert to being a plain old police force, but in 1989 when the dredger Bowbelle hit a party boat, the Marchioness, capsizing it, with the loss of 51 young lives, it was not in a position to do much to help.

In the aftermath, there must have been some decision (though I can't remember it receiving much publicity) to employ the lifeboat service to supply search and rescue on the Thames.

The RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Insitiution) is best known for its rescue work around the coast of Great Britain and Ireland. Its Severn class lifeboats cost £2.7 million, all raised by public subscription, all manned by volunteers. They can go up to 50 miles out to sea.

They can also handle the roughest of seas, and can capsize completely, then right themselves in less than ten seconds.

During our recent floods, however, the RNLI has been helping to rescue stranded people in flooded areas.

And today they were at school telling the kids about their service (and of course letting them try on jackets, lifebelts and helmets!)

Don't we do fun stuff?


JoJo said...

You guys don't have a coast guard type thing that patrols the Thames?

val said...

As I understand it, JoJo, there are still reiver police to deal with crime, but rescue is for the RNLI volunteers. They have ordinary jobs and get called out for emergencies. But if you see someone in trouble in the Thames, you dial the emergency number (999, or better still 112, which bounces straight off the satellite without needing a mast to connect it) and ask for the coastguard. I found that out today!

Anonymous said...


Eliza said...

My gran used to be part of a variety group that raised money for the Mumbles lifeboat..I have pictures somewhere of their trip :)

I think the RNLI do a wonderful job, and deserve all the support they can get

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