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Free ice creams - RNLI charity whips up an ice surprise on London’s South Bank

Lifeboats News Release

Lifesaving charity, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) will combine the power of social media and the nation’s love of an ice cream to promote vital lifesaving messages this summer.

The RNLI’s new #IceSurprise social media campaign offers Londoners a free ice cream in exchange for sharing water safety messages with their friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter.

The campaign will see an #IceSurprise ice cream van park up on the South Bank on Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 July, packed full of cooling treats for punters. The van will hand out postcards containing a water safety message from the RNLI. Once the recipient* has shared the message on either Facebook or Twitter, they will be rewarded with their free ice cream.

RNLI lifeguards patrol over 220 UK beaches across the UK and the Republic of Ireland, while lifeboats operate from 237 coastal stations. Last year lifeguards saved 94 lives and helped 18,181 people, while lifeboats launched 8,228 times and rescued 7,973 people. But despite this, each year, an average of 165 people die in the UK at the coast.

The RNLI national drowning prevention campaign, Respect the Water, aims to halve the number of accidental coastal deaths in the UK and Republic of Ireland by 2024. Raising awareness of the dangers of the coast and providing key safety messages to prevent water-related accidents via social media will help achieve this target. The message people will be asked to share on social media will relate to the RNLI’s Respect the Water campaign.

Adam Robson, RNLI Community Incident Reduction Manager, commented: ‘It’s really important that the public understands that UK waters are dangerously unpredictable and that they know what to do should they get into difficulty.

‘This campaign is a fun and interactive way to teach people – letting them and their friends know how to stay safe this summer and not end up as one of our statistics. It’s all about sharing our safety messages with as many people as possible.

‘By the end of the whole campaign we hope to have shared key safety facts with over a million people, giving away over 36,000 free ice cream in the process.’

Anyone aged 13 and over can get their free ice cream. To get your free tub of Jude’s Very Vanilla ice cream you can find the #IceSurprise van at the Queen’s Stone, Coin Street, London between 10am and 5pm on Saturday 30 and 31 July. The Queens Stone is on the South Bank of the River Thames alongside Oxo Tower Wharf, 5 minutes walk east of Waterloo Bridge and the National Theatre.

RNLI media contacts

Tim Ash, RNLI Public Relations Manager (London/East/South East) on 0207 6207426, 07785 296252
Sophie Coller-Nielsen Press Officer (London/East/South East), 0207 6207416, 07824 416615 email

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.


The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland