A man who almost drowned a month before his 40th birthday has urged people not to underestimate the strength of the River Thames.

Neil Sturton, of Ellerman Avenue, Whitton, was out on a boat with friends on bank holiday Monday, travelling from Turks Island, Twickenham, to the Anglers pub, near Teddington Lock.

As the group reached their destination, at about 3.45pm, the boat ran out of fuel and became caught in a strong tide that dragged it into a nearby jetty.

Mr Sturton, 39, who was standing at the bow of the boat without a life jacket, was catapulted into the river as it struck the jetty and dragged under by the current.

He said: “I was taken under immediately.

“Because the water was murky I could not see anything and could not work out which direction was up. It was real panic stations.

“There were eight mooring poles and I kept trying to grab one. I managed to hold on to the last one.

“Everyone was panicking. I could hear the lock-keeper yelling ‘hold on, you must hold on’.”

Crews from Teddington lifeboat station were called and a boat arrived at the scene within minutes.

Crew members gave Mr Sturton oxygen and wrapped him in a blanket.

He was taken to West Middlesex Hospital where he was checked over and later released.

He said the incident had made him realise the strength of the river and warned others to be careful while out on their boats.

Mr Sturton said he would now always wear a life jacket when out on the river – and thanked the lifeboat crew who rescued him.

He said: “It was touch and go for me.

“The river can be so dangerous – it really highlighted this to me. The current in the river was astonishing. I lost complete control.”

The Twickenham branch of the RNLI is inviting people to attend its annual general meeting.

The meeting will be held at 8pm on April 21, at Teddington lifeboat station, Twickenham Road, Teddington.

For more information on the work of the branch visit rnli twickenham.org.uk.