From drums to drysuit, meet the RNLI rocker keeping The Boat Race crowds safe

Lifeboats News Release

Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) crew member Mark Pusey is used to huge crowds after performing on stage with Ed Sheeran, Elton John, Leona Lewis and Tom Jones.


Mark Pusey volunteering with the RNLI

However, he’ll be swapping his drumsticks for a drysuit this weekend when he takes to the water with his fellow volunteer lifeboat crew members to keep an expected crowd of a quarter of million people safe while they watch Oxford and Cambridge battle it out on The Thames in the university Boat Race.

Mark said: ‘I’m unbelievably fortunate to have such an incredible job as a drummer, and I’ve toured alongside some very talented artists such as Ed Sheeran, Elton John, Tom Jones, and Leona Lewis.

‘I have to pinch myself sometimes considering what I do for a job – it’s great performing and seeing people enjoying the music – it just gives you an amazing buzz as you fully embrace the atmosphere whether it be on stage or recording in the studio as you enjoy the moment.

‘In contrast, in my time away from the drum kit I’m lucky enough to make a real difference in London as I volunteer for the RNLI helping save lives along the River Thames.

'It’s a far cry from standing side by side with a pop star, however, when you put your hand out to pull someone from the water in their moment of need, it gives you a different kind of buzz, a sense of satisfaction – a feeling you’ve made a difference and saved someone’s life.’

The RNLI is the official charity partner of the 2022 boat race and is celebrating 20 years on the Thames for its four lifeboat stations at Tower, Teddington, Chiswick and Gravesend.

The lifesaving charity has rescued more than 1,800 people during that time and saved 179 lives.

RNLI crew and lifeguards will be on hand again this weekend, in two lifeboats and nine inshore rescue boats along the championship course providing safety cover and offering advice to those watching on from the riverbank.

Mark is volunteer crew at Chiswick and said: ‘We’re expecting 250,000 spectators to be watching from the shore on Boat Race day. It’s rare to have a crowd that big gathered on a river bank though, and especially one as tidal as the Thames - so we’re asking those enjoying the day to take care and respect the water while having a fun day out.

‘We’ve been saving lives on the River Thames for 20 years now and it is always great to be involved with events like the Boat Race.

‘Our advice to those coming to enjoy the day is to be aware of your surroundings, as slips trips and falls can happen easily. If you do fall into the water unexpectedly, remember to float to live. Keep calm and try not to panic, lean back extending your arms and legs to keep your airway clear of the water and if you need to, gently move your arms and legs in a gentle motion to help you float. Once you have your breathing under control then consider swimming to a point of safety.

‘If you do see anyone in trouble, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard and if you can, try and give a location as this will help rescue services get to those in difficulty quicker.’

Wayne Bellamy, Station Manager at Chiswick RNLI said: ‘We’re proud to be the official charity partner of the Gemini Boat Race and to be part of the historic race between Oxford and Cambridge Universities.

‘The partnership aims to raise funds to support the Thames’ lifesaving service with all proceeds going towards the running costs of the four RNLI stations along the river.

‘Our community safety teams have also been working with venues and schools along the course to provide lifesaving water safety training and encourage familiarity with throwlines.’

To support the Boat Race and RNLI Thames crews, you can donate to save lives in London here:

RNLI media contacts

For more information please telephone Dave Riley, RNLI National Media Officer on 07795 015042 or [email protected] or RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.


Mark Pusey drumming up a beat

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.

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 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.