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Chair’s Welcome

I am delighted as Chair of the Friends to welcome you to our website. Bushy Park and Home Park are two wonderful large green oases in the south west corner of London. Feeling wild, they are natural places with ancient histories, fascinating heritage and superb wildlife. Both are Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) containing rare species. These are places to be enjoyed and conserved. Which is why the Friends exist, campaigning, supporting and protecting the parks, and enhancing visitors’ enjoyment with information, advice and guidance.

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Thursday Talk: Teddington Lifeboats

Thursday Talk: Teddington Lifeboats

Teddington Lifeboat (teddington-lock.co.uk)

Talk by John Tough on January 28th 2010

Report by Jane Cliff February 2010

John started the talk by explaining his role as ‘Deputy Launch Authority’. John acts as the liaison between the Coastguard and the Lifeboats. The Coastguard calls John who then makes the decision whether or not to launch the Lifeboat.

After the loss of life in the Marchioness disaster in 1989 it was (eventually) recognised in 2001 that a dedicated search and rescue organisation was necessary. The coastguard at Woolwich asked the RNLI to provide a 15 minute service to cover the Thames from stations at Gravesend, The Tower and Chiswick. It was then recognised that the Chiswick boat could not get to Richmond in 15 minutes, so in 2001 it was decided to open a station at Teddington to cover the 3.5 miles to Richmond. This required a very fast turn round with the crew trained by August/September and the station signed off as operational by mid December 2001. The first call out was on New Years Eve and the first 3 months were the busiest of any in-shore station in the country.

It was soon recognised that a Teddington boat could get to Hampton Wick, Kingston, Hampton Court and Molesey faster than a boat from Chiswick, so 2 D class lifeboats now cover the 5 miles from Molesey lock to Teddington and the 3.5 miles on to Richmond.

The 20 crew are all volunteers and have a target of 3 minutes to arrive at the station and another 90 seconds to remove clothing, put on dry suit, ‘bunny suit’, life jacket and helmet and then launch the lifeboat.

Since 2002, the Coastguard have only been turned down twice; once when a skip floated down river and was dealt with by the Port of London Authority and when there was a report of ‘a man in distress’ in the water at Richmond. The man was Bamber Gascoigne, a regular swimmer in the river, who assured the police that he was OK.

Callouts can be anything from attempted suicides to groups on the bridges thought by the police to be potentially dangerous. August Bank Holiday in 2007 resulted in 4 launches; 3 times for lads jumping into the river off Richmond Bridge and one call to a domestic incident in a houseboat at Hampton Wick.

In 2003 the river was in flood for 3-4 months. There was a call to a couple who had a mooring in the middle of the river at Petersham. The wife had lost her footing and had fallen into the river. The boat arrived in 8 minutes and she was OK, but as there had been some problems as she was rather heavy, the local press headline was ’Big woman in river rescue’!

On another occasion the road by the White Cross pub was flooded and a BMW car floated off down the river. Black hair was seen in the back of the car so the lifeboat was called, the windscreen was smashed and a mannequin’s head pulled out; the car sank. The Port of London authority had to pull the car out and provided another headline for the local press.

The station has very few problems with rowing, sailing boats and canoes, but there have been 6 incidents involving motor boats including a catamaran with weed caught in the motor.

John gave a brief history of the RNLI which was formed in 1824 as an independent charity. 4,500 volunteers raise 130 – 140 million per year and fund 8,200 total callouts.

In 2001 RNLI Lifeguards were started with 140 units round the coast of the UK.

A 15 minute film showing the work of the RNLI was shown followed by questions.

There is obviously great local interest and support for the Teddington Station and John was asked to keep us informed re an open day sometime in June or July.

Many thanks to John for a most entertaining and informative talk.

Report by Jane Cliff February 2010

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Walks & Talks

Forthcoming event

Friday, 26th Apr 8:00 pm

Talk by Andreas Liefooghe ‘Operation Centaur – Working with Shire Horses’

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Information Point

The Information Point next to the Pheasantry Welcome Centre café is where our volunteers help visitors find out more about the parks and where visitors can purchase souvenirs of your visit to support our work.

Click this panel to visit our Information Point section and also to find out how you can get involved as a volunteer.