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by Chiswick RNLI

New Year’s Honour for RNLI Thames safety volunteer

RNLI volunteer safety officer John Soones has been awarded the BEM (British Empire Medal) for his invaluable work in preventing drowning along the Thames and for his efforts in trying to reduce the number of suicides on the river.

John Soones RNLI volunteer safety officer

John originally joined the RNLI as a Life Governor nearly 40 years ago after the RNLI helped rescue him following a diving accident. In later life he applied to become crew at Chiswick Lifeboat Station but finding himself too old to serve on the lifeboat he became a voluntary Lifeboat Sea Safety Officer.
Working tirelessly with many partner organisations he has helped drive forward a wide range of safety initiatives to help reduce the number of drownings on the river. With Teddington Lifeboat station crew, he was instrumental in setting up the programme to train staff at riverside pubs and clubs on the Thames to use throwlines. This initiative has saved a number of lives on the river and the programme has now been taken up by the RNLI nationally.

A significant proportion of Thames lifeboat launches involve potential suicides. John initiated discussions with the Samaritans and other agencies to address this issue. John is also chair of the British Diving Safety Group. In partnership with the Group the RNLI developed a Diver Sea Survival course now offered at the Lifeboat College in Poole.

John said: ‘I’m delighted that the work I’ve done over the past ten years has been recognised in some way. I’m one member of a very big team – there are a lot of people walking around today who wouldn’t be otherwise because of the work we’ve done.’


RNLI Media contacts:

David Clarke, RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer (Chiswick), 07951 21 0500 David_Clarke@rnli.org.uk

New Year’s Honour for RNLI Thames safety volunteer
Lifeboats News Release
Wednesday 2 January 2019
RNLI volunteer safety officer John Soones has been awarded the BEM (British Empire Medal) for his invaluable work in preventing drowning along the Thames and for his efforts in trying to reduce the number of suicides on the river.
John Soones RNLI volunteer safety officer John Soones
John Soones RNLI volunteer safety officer
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John originally joined the RNLI as a Life Governor nearly 40 years ago after the RNLI helped rescue him following a diving accident. In later life he applied to become crew at Chiswick Lifeboat Station but finding himself too old to serve on the lifeboat he became a voluntary Lifeboat Sea Safety Officer.
Working tirelessly with many partner organisations he has helped drive forward a wide range of safety initiatives to help reduce the number of drownings on the river. With Teddington Lifeboat station crew, he was instrumental in setting up the programme to train staff at riverside pubs and clubs on the Thames to use throwlines. This initiative has saved a number of lives on the river and the programme has now been taken up by the RNLI nationally.

A significant proportion of Thames lifeboat launches involve potential suicides. John initiated discussions with the Samaritans and other agencies to address this issue. John is also chair of the British Diving Safety Group. In partnership with the Group the RNLI developed a Diver Sea Survival course now offered at the Lifeboat College in Poole.

John said: ‘I’m delighted that the work I’ve done over the past ten years has been recognised in some way. I’m one member of a very big team – there are a lot of people walking around today who wouldn’t be otherwise because of the work we’ve done.’

Chiswick RNLI lifeboat station is the second busiest in the UK and Ireland. Since the RNLI search and rescue service on the Thames started in 2002, Chiswick Lifeboat has attended over 3,500 incidents and rescued over 1,730 people. As well as saving lives at sea around the coasts of the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, the RNLI also plays a huge part in protecting people’s safety on some of our inland waterways including the River Thames, where it operates four lifeboat stations at Teddington, Chiswick, Waterloo Bridge (Tower Lifeboat Station) and Gravesend. Tower and Chiswick are the two busiest RNLI stations, responding to around 10% of the calls across all 238 RNLI stations in 2018. Unlike many other stations, Tower, Chiswick and Gravesend operate with a round-the-clock crew who are ready to launch within 90 seconds of an emergency call coming in. At each station, the full-time crew work alongside volunteers who come from all different 'day jobs' such as bankers, TV producers, civil servants, students and other emergency services, and give up their time to help save lives on the Thames.

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