The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is commemorating two centuries of saving lives at sea and along the Thames.
The charity has launched a podcast series featuring 200 voices telling true stories about how they’ve been helped or have been involved with the organisation.
It comes after a busy year for the Teddington lifeboat station, which launched boats 96 times in 2023.
The station is also celebrating the donation of a new lifeboat by a local benefactor, Hilary Saw.
Matt Allchurch, Lifeboat Station Operations Manager said, “We have had another busy year and I feel incredibly proud of all that our crew has done, on and off the water.
“We truly feel part of the Teddington community and would like to thank all those who have supported us this year.”
The new lifeboat will be refurbished and fitted with an electric motor as they convert to using electric vehicles.
Six of the 30 volunteer crew members left their celebrations of New Year’s Eve to rescue someone in the Thames.
The crew also met nearly 20,000 school children, scouts, rowers, paddle-boarders and other river users to give them safety advice last year.
They inspected more than a hundred lifejackets at free lifejacket clinics and found half to be faulty.
You can meet Teddington RNLI station crew at the Village Fair, River Festival, Christmas Lights Up and other local events.
Donations from local events and retail help keep the station afloat.
There will also be a 200th anniversary Service of Thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey on 4th March.
The charity wants to inspire future generations of lifesavers and supporters.
The London lifeboat stations were set up following the Marchioness disaster in 1989, when 51 people were killed as a boat hired for a birthday party sank on the Thames in 30 seconds after being hit by a dredger.
The government of the day realised that there was no meaningful emergency service on the tidal river.
They asked the RNLI to establish four lifeboat stations in Teddington, Chiswick, Tower (Bridge) and Gravesend.
One of the podcasts included in the 200 Voices series is about a Teddington war veteran who took part in the Dunkirk rescue.
Stanley Holtom tells the captivating story of when he was an eight-year-old stow away.
Holtom says: “I still think that experience at eight years old stayed with me for the rest of my life.”
Another podcast features Andrea Corrie who shares her moving story of losing her 19-year-old son.
He drowned in the Thames, which prompted Andrea to campaign for water safety.
A new episode is being released every day for 200 days.
If you see someone in trouble in the water, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.
You can also click here if you’re interested in volunteering with the RNLI.
Image credits: RNLI