On Wednesday 6th June 2023, Tower RNLI, located on the Thames in the heart of central London, reached the milestone of 10,000 lifeboat launches, while saving the life of a member of the public.
At 1.09pm the crew launched to multiple reports of a person in the water around Battersea. They were able to recover the member of the public from the water, carry out initial care and then pass the person over to the London Ambulance Service. The rescue was carried out jointly between the Metropolitan Police, the Port of London Authority, and the RNLI. Neil Ceconi was the commander on the 10,000th shout and has been on the crew at Tower RNLI for six years.
He said: ‘This was a team effort working with our partner agencies which really reflects what we do on the Thames. It is a big milestone for the station and the crew as a whole and as always I’m proud of seeing all the crew working together and using their training to help save a life. As well as being our 10,000th shout, we are now operating out of our new purpose-built station so it seems fitting we reached this historic number in our new home.’
Neil worked alongside crew members Storm Smith-Suckoo, Laura Lewis and Suzanne Goldberg on the duty boat E-07 Hurley Burley. Volunteer Laura who has been on the crew since 2015, added: ‘As soon as the call came in and we knew a person was in the water we attended as fast as we could. I knew the 10,000th shout was approaching as we have a board up in the station but none of us thought of that at the time – we were just focusing on the job at hand. On reflection it is wonderful to be part of such a milestone. I also think of all the other shouts leading up to this that my colleagues have worked on and given such dedication to.’
Over 21 years since its formation, Tower has saved 381 lives over its 10,000 shouts and is the first station to reach this milestone. In 2022 alone, the station had its busiest year as the crew launched 734 times and saved 21 lives. Equipped with the fastest lifeboats in the RNLI’s fleet, Tower RNLI’s crew aims to launch within 90 seconds of an emergency call being received from the Coastguard.
Over the last 20 years Tower RNLI has carried out some incredible rescues including:
The impressive history of the station began following the tragedy of the pleasure boat Marchioness in 1989 in which 51 people lost their lives after a collision with a dredger. An inquiry following the tragedy recommended the need for a dedicated rescue service on the Thames.
At the end of April, the crew moved into a brand-new purpose-built station on Victoria Embankment – and had their first call out that same evening. Whilst their new station was completed the crew operated from HMS PRESIDENT – the Royal Naval Reserve’s training facility in London.
The new station was made possible thanks to generous donations including £3.5million from the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Officer’s Association following the sale of the Naval Club in Mayfair.