I have been asked by Richmond & Twickenham Times to write about Teddington RNLI Lifeboat Station and the sort of work we do on the River Thames.

‘What lifeboat station?’ you may well ask!

Teddington Lifeboat Station is a lifeboat station in Teddington, Middlesex, by the River Thames, located off Twickenham Road and opposite Teddington Lock. Teddington is one of four RNLI lifeboat stations on the River Thames (the others being Chiswick, Gravesend and Tower).

The RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) established in 1824 to Save Lives At Sea is a 24-hour search and rescue service operating from 238 lifeboat stations around the UK and Ireland.

Teddington is one of the RNLI's newest lifeboat stations and is one of the first to cover a river rather than estuarial waters or the sea. Teddington Lock is the highest tidal point on the Thames.

Although Teddington RNLI is discreetly located, we are highly visible on the River Thames, helping the local communities in which we operate with our two bright orange and black D-Class Inshore Lifeboats (ILBs) named D-743 Olwen and Tom and D-785 Peter Saw.

I’ve been with Teddington RNLI Lifeboat Station since May 2015. A letter posted through my letterbox at my family home in Teddington three years ago looking for new volunteers intrigued me and led to the most incredible experiences. I am now not only one of the crew but also since January I have been the LPO or Lifeboat Press Officer for Teddington RNLI.

We have a great team of people, all volunteers who want to serve the community on our patch, an eight mile stretch of the River Thames from Richmond Half Lock all the way up to Molesey Lock.

In the event of a call-out or ‘shout’, every crew member’s pager is simultaneously activated by the London Coastguard, 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, the crew aim to launch one or both boats depending on the nature of the incident within six minutes of the call to the HM Coastguard. Our operational target is to be on scene within 15 minutes of the original call.

In my future articles I will share with you our history, our shouts, the ‘multi-agency’ exercises where we collaborate with other emergency services in dealing with typical scenarios to constantly practice and improve how we respond to shouts on the Thames.

I’ll introduce you to the types of people who volunteer for Teddington RNLI. We have 30 volunteers including engineers, bankers, architects, lawyers, policemen, taxi drivers, IT specialists, students and some with Royal Navy experience, who are now helms, crew, shore crew and DLAs (Divisional Launching Authorities). We also have many volunteer fundraisers. We train every week and often at weekends to achieve the high standards of competence and safety expected of the RNLI.

We all have our reasons for wanting to be part of the RNLI ‘family’ to ensure we have a safer Thames where everyone can enjoy the river knowing we are there when needed.

By Paul Stallard

Teddington RNLI Lifeboat Press Officer and Crew