A Day in the Life: RNLI Gravesend

It was a bracing morning, when the Your Thurrock team had the opportunity to spend a few hours with the crew of the Gravesend Life Boat.

The RNLI was invited to provide this facility following the Marchioness tragedy in 1989 and so on 2nd January 2002 four new lifeboat stations were opened.

Gravesend station is manned 24 hours a day, with a mixture of full time and volunteer crew. The crew currently use the The Atlantic 85, Olive Laura Deare II, which came on station in 2008.

Gravesend Lifeboat covers an area from Holehaven, at the western end of Canvey Island, to the Thames Flood Barrier at Woolwich, a distance of 26 miles.

Although it is very unusual within the RNLI to have crew permanently at a station, the requirement to reach 90% of incidents within 15 minutes of being tasked makes this a necessity. The full- time staff work a shift system of four twelve-hour days, then four days off, followed by four nights, then four days off.

Our volunteer crew are asked to attend for a minimum of two twelve-hour shifts per month, either day or night. Because there is no need to live very close to the lifeboat station, to respond to a pager, many people who would otherwise have been unable to volunteer as lifeboat crew have been able to do so.

Obviously, these RNLI Lifeboat stations are all funded by charity donations. And in these financially difficult times in which we live, every penny counts. So we owe a debt of gratitude, to that brave band who go out, come rain or shine to collect for all our benefits.

Thurrock has it’s own fund-raising Branch of the RNLI, which can be found via the following link; http://www.rnli-thurrock.org.uk/.

If you see an emergency on the River Thames dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

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