Tower RNLI welcomes its new E class lifeboat, Hearn Medicine Chest (E-10)

Lifeboats News Release

The RNLI’s mission to save lives on the River Thames took another step forward recently when crew and volunteers from Tower Lifeboat Station formally accepted its newest inshore lifeboat into service.

Photo of Thames Commander Craig Burn welcoming 'Hearn Medicine Chest' to the RNLI with a bottle of bubbly.

Laura Lewis

'Hearn Medicine Chest' is officially welcomed by Thames Commander Craig Burn as she is accepted into service with the RNLI.

Commonly, when a lifeboat is delivered to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), its naming takes place shortly after the new boat arrives on station. Unfortunately, for Hearn Medicine Chest, this wasn’t destined to be the case.

The lifeboat, also known to its crew as “Echo 10” or simply “10”, was delivered onto station at Tower RNLI in December 2019 and went into service as soon as the crew completed their training. However, the COVID-19 pandemic meant that its naming and dedication ceremony at St Katherine’s Dock was, quite unusually, delayed for nearly two years.

Tower’s newest lifeboat, an E-class rigid inflatable inshore lifeboat, is named Hearn Medicine Chest in recognition of the generous help of the Hearn family and the donation provided by their charity, the Hearn Medicine Chest Trust, which fully funded it.

The Hearn Medicine Chest Trust was established in 2000, by Jimmy and Diane Hearn and joined by Sarah Hearn as a trustee in 2017, with the principal objective of ‘funding a lifeboat for the RNLI’. The first third-generation (mk 3) E-class lifeboat, Hearn Medicine Chest joins second-generation E-class Hurley Burly (E-07) at Tower RNLI, the RNLI’s busiest lifeboat station, where it will be instrumental in saving lives in London for the foreseeable future.

Indeed, the delay in occasion did not spoil the sentiment of the naming ceremony but, in fact, added a level of rarity to it. At an event held on Sunday 17 October, and in front of invited guests, family and friends, Hearn Medicine Chest was officially welcomed to the RNLI. Frank Moxon, Chairman of the City of London Committee, welcomed the guests on behalf of the lifeboat station and opened the proceedings.

The audience then heard from Jimmy Hearn, a founder and Co-Trustee of the Hearn Medicine Chest Trust, who spoke evocatively of his experiences in the ill fated Fastnet Race in 1979, where 24 boats were abandoned in bad weather and 15 sailors lost their lives, and his motivations for founding the Hearn Medicine Chest Trust and its support of the RNLI.

As proceedings continued Hearn Medicine Chest was accepted into the fleet, on behalf of the RNLI, by Janet Cooper OBE, Deputy Chair of the RNLI, who thanked the Hearn Family for making their support and the Trust for its gift of E-10. It was then accepted onto station at Tower RNLI by RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, Kevin Maynard, who to the delight of the Hearn family and assorted dignitaries, disclosed that since delivery Hearn Medicine Chest, had been launched on 562 service calls and helped save 24 lives on the Thames. These details highlight the impact the Trust’s generosity has already made to the RNLI and to the people of London.

Acceptance of Hearn Medicine Chest into the RNLI was followed, in the traditional way, by a Service of Dedication, officiated by Cannon Michael Rawson, Sub Dean of Southwark. Cannon Michael blessed Tower’s newest Lifeboat and thanked the Trust for its generosity, as well as the manufacturers for their skill and ingenuity in producing a state of the art lifeboat. Stephen Wheatley, a crew member of Tower RNLI delivered the vote of thanks on behalf of the Lifeboat Station and the RNLI.

Finally, and respecting one of the greatest maritime traditions, Hearn Medicine Chest was officially christened, in champagne, by Jimmy Hearn, on behalf of the Trust and Tower Lifeboat Commander Craig Burn, on behalf of the RNLI, to the cheers and applause of all assembled.

Commenting on the ceremony, RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, Kevin Maynard, said: ‘I think I speak for all of us at Tower Lifeboat Station when I say this is a very proud day. We are extremely grateful to Jimmy Hearn and his family for donating this lifeboat’.

The RNLI’s E-class lifeboats are unique to operations on the Thames. With a top speed of 40 knots (46mph), they are the fastest class of lifeboat in the RNLI fleet. With the difference between life and death on the cold, fast moving River Thames measured in seconds, this means that the Tower crew can respond extremely quickly in an emergency; often at scene in a matter of minutes from first tasking. With a shallow draught and powered by waterjets, Hearn Medicine Chest can operate in shallow water and allows its helmsman greater control when alongside other craft. At over nine metres in length, its large working platform at the back also allows the crew to get casualties out of the water quickly and safely.

Notes to editors

Tower RNLI’s new lifeboat:

· Hearn Medicine Chest was built by Delta Power Group for the RNLI.

· Hearn Medicine Chest (E-10) is the first third-generation (mk 3) E-class lifeboat and joins second-generation (mk 2) E-class Hurley Burly (E-07) at Tower RNLI, the RNLI’s busiest lifeboat station

· Hearn Medicine Chest was delivered onto station at Tower RNLI in December 2019 where it has already been involved in over 560 service calls and has been pivotal in saving 24 lives on the River Thames.

· With a top speed of 40 knots (46 mph), Hearn Medicine Chest is one of the fastest lifeboats in the RNLI fleet. With the difference between life and death on the the River Thames measured in seconds, this may mean the difference between a successful rescue and a tragedy.

Tower RNLI:

· Based just under Waterloo Bridge on the north side of the Thames, Tower RNLI is the dedicated search and rescue resource for central London and covers a 16 mile stretch of the Thames between Barking Creek and Battersea.

· Tower RNLI is the RNLI’s busiest lifeboat station having launched on over 8,350 service calls, rescuing almost 2,000 people and saving over 330 lives since it opened in 2002.

· Unlike coastal crews who respond to pagers, Tower RNLI has a full crew compliment on station 24/7 and 365 days a year. To enable that to happen, our volunteer crew of 55 work at least two 12hr shifts per month at the station, supported by 10 permanent crew.

· After 20 years serving the people of London, this iconic London landmark, situated on the Victoria Embankment next to Waterloo Bridge, is in desperate need of modernisation if it is to sustain future years of lifesaving. To help meet this need, the RNLI launched an appeal in September to raise funds for a new station at Tower RNLI. For more information, or to donate, please visit rnli.org/towerstation

RNLI media contacts

For more information, please contact Niall Daws, Tower RNLI Lifeboat Press Officer on: 07812079768 or [email protected] or Lisa Farrell, Tower RNLI Lifeboat Press Officer on: [email protected]. Alternatively, please contact the RNLI Press Office on: 01202 336789. Paul Dunt, RNLI Regional Media Officer, London and South East (07785) 296252


Photo of Canon Michael Rawson officially blessing 'Hearn Medicine Chest'.

Laura Lewis

Canon Michael Rawson, Sub Dean of Southwark blesses 'Hearn Medicine Chest'.
Close up photo of the nameplate of RNLI E-10 'Hearn Medicine Chest' at St Katherine's Dock, London.

Laura Lewis

RNLI E-10 'Hearn Medicine Chest' at St Katherine's Dock, London.
Photo of 'Hearn Medicine Chest' darting under Tower Bridge.

Laura Lewis

'Hearn Medicine Chest' darts under Tower Bridge as she returns to station at Tower Lifeboat Station.

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.

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