On Thursday we were delighted to have Stephen Wheatley, brother of the Master and a Liveryman of the Company of Entrepreneurs, speak to us about his work as a volunteer with the RNLI on the Thames.
He gave us fascinating insight into the design and technology of the boats and equipment which of course included significant amounts of instrumentation. He also spoke of the particular requirements of lifesaving on a busy, fast flowing river like the Thames surrounded by buildings compared with lifesaving at sea. This is especially evident as reports come in by mobile phone with locations given by landmarks rather than in nautical terms. Because of need for rapid response volunteers have to stay at the stations rather than being called in from home or work as sea based lifeboatmen often are.
As a volunteer he works at least two 12 hour shifts per month and is required to mobilise in 90 seconds. Quite a challenge given the kit that has to be worn and a boat to launch. All volunteers undergo thorough training and the cost of this must all be covered by RNLI fundraising. He spoke also of the need to replace the 160 year old Tower Station pontoon because of its age and the constant buffeting by ever faster boat traffic.
The presentation was not recorded it but you will find a copy of his slides here plus links below to two videos of the RNLI rescuing people in the Thames.
Stephen ended his talk by offering a visit to the lifeboat station which will hopefully take place over the next year or so. Please look out for announcements.
If you wish to support the RNLI by donating to the replacement of Tower RNLI Lifeboat Station please go to this Just Giving page.