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London lifesavers benefit from new kit thanks to Tideway donation

Lifeboats News Release

An RNLI crew in London is benefitting from a new, more comfortable kit, thanks to a donation from the organisation building London's new super sewer.

Volunteers at Tower Lifeboat Station wearing the new kit donated by Tideway.


Volunteers at Tower Lifeboat Station wearing the new kit donated by Tideway.

Volunteers at Tower Lifeboat Station have become some of the first lifesavers in the country to receive the RNLI’s brand-new crew kit, which is lighter, more comfortable and designed to allow greater freedom of movement.

Kevin Maynard, RNLI station Manager at Tower Lifeboat Station said: ‘The new kit is much lighter than the old one and has breathable fabric, so it’s ideal for the work we undertake on the Thames. Our crews launch in just 90 seconds, so it’s essential the kit is comfortable and easy to put on, while also knowing it will be able to cope with the harsh conditions we often face on the River Thames’.

Steve Hails, Tideway’s Director of Health, Safety and Wellbeing, said: 'Many of our sites are based along the River Thames and we use it to transport a huge amount of materials for construction. Keeping our site teams, those working on the river and members of the public around our sites safe is a core value for us and we are delighted to be able to support organisations like the RNLI, whose invaluable work makes the River Thames a safer environment for everyone.'

Specially designed with the RNLI to ensure it meets the demanding needs of the RNLI’s volunteer crews, the new kit uses state of the art waterproof and breathable technical fabric which provides increased comfort compared to the previous non-breathable fabric of the old kit. The light but strong kit is reinforced for exposed areas and its technical layering system ensures crew members will keep warm and dry whilst out in the Lifeboat.

The kit comes in a wide range of sizes and has bespoke designs to fit both male and female crew members, unlike the kit it is replacing. The new bib, mid-layer and base-layer garments have a specific fit for female crew members, enabling better comfort and freedom of movement.

Tideway’s partnership with the RNLI includes collaboration on community events, including RNLI demos at Tideway’s recent Foreshore Festival at Putney and Shadwell, and project staff volunteering to support the RNLI’s Youth Engagement programme and its Community Responder scheme which is being piloted in London.


Photo: Volunteers at Tower Lifeboat Station wearing the new kit donated by Tideway.

Notes to editors

Tower Lifeboat Station

Tower Lifeboat Station is the RNLI’s busiest station - launching 486 times, aiding 153 people and saving 10 lives in 2017. The station has already launched more than 550 times this year. Tower, along with the RNLI’s three other stations along the Thames – Gravesend, Chiswick and Teddington – was opened in 2002 following the enquiry into the Marchioness disaster of 1989, when 51 lives were lost on the Thames following a collision between a riverboat and a dredger.

Now based on the former Waterloo Police Pier by Waterloo Bridge, the crew of Tower Lifeboat Station is made up of full-time staff and volunteers from a wide range of backgrounds and careers from fire-fighters to musicians, from paramedics to lawyers. Because of the need for an immediate response there is a crew on station 24/7 with a launch time of around 90 seconds. The station operates an E class lifeboat which is the fastest boat in the RNLI fleet, capable of 40 knots. It was specially designed to handle the powerful tidal currents of the Thames, submerged debris and heavy traffic.

The crew of the station works closely with the Metropolitan Police Marine Policing Unit, London Fire Brigade, London Ambulance Service and HM Coastguard.

The donation from Tideway has been used to fund the kit at Tower Lifeboat Station. In addition the RNLI is also rolling out the new kit to Chiswick Lifeboat Station and a further 128 all-weather lifeboat stations across the UK and Ireland.


Tideway is the independent construction company delivering London’s super sewer, the Thames Tideway Tunnel, which is a 25km sewer tunnel urgently required to tackle sewage pollution in the tidal River Thames. In total the project is creating 4,000 direct sustainable jobs. One in every 50 site jobs is an apprenticeship.

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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.

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