Street artist Slinkachu has recreated a lifesaving RNLI rescue that took place on the Thames last year to highlight the incredible work that the charity does on the river and support the RNLI Alternative Boat Race. Despite being home to the two busiest lifeboat stations in the UK, only 35% of people in Greater London are aware of the RNLI’s work on the Thames.
The RNLI relies on the generosity of the public to fund its lifesaving work and Slinkachu’s composition supports the RNLI Alternative Boat Race fundraising event on the 10 April, which takes place the day before the BNY Mellon Boat Race on the same famous stretch of river. Members of the public can sponsor one of 250 floating miniature lifeboats to be in with the chance of winning the right to name one of the charity’s new D class lifeboats. On the day anyone can come and watch the race from the south riverbank. The race starts at 5.30pm and runs between Barnes Bridge and the finish line at the University Stone just before Chiswick Bridge. The race will also be streamed live on the RNLI website www.rnli.org.uk/boatrace.
Slinkachu, famed for his ‘little people’ miniature model set-ups that appear guerrilla style in public spaces, has highlighted a genuine rescue from September last year where a volunteer crew member went above and beyond to rescue a man trapped on a mooring cable beneath the London Eye.
The charity’s lifeboat crew were called into action last year following a report of a man in the River Thames underneath the London Eye. The crew arrived to find two boats on scene keeping watch on a man who was stood on the mooring cable of a boom at the base of the London Eye. He was clinging on tightly unable to move from his position. Two RNLI crew members courageously jumped from the lifeboat onto the boom, which was moving in the choppy river, and managed to get the man to the safety of the lifeboat. Volunteer Helen Church, who balances her charity work on the Thames with a busy day job as a civil servant, was one of the RNLI crew members who managed to rescue the man from his precarious position, getting him to the safety of the lifeboat. The man was taken back to Tower lifeboat station and handed into the care of paramedics from the London Ambulance Service.
There are three RNLI London lifeboat stations on the River Thames – Tower, Chiswick and Teddington – plus a further station further along the river at Gravesend. The crews of these stations launched 930 times in 2014, rescuing 271 people and saving 28 lives. In the 12 years since RNLI began operating on the Thames, the lifeboat crews have rescued over 3,600 people on the river in the capital.
Slinkachu, who waived his fee for the RNLI to create the set-up said, 'I’m a proud Londoner but ashamed to say I had no idea of the vital job the RNLI does on the Thames to keep us all safe. The crew members have to be ready to launch at a moment’s notice day or night to ensure they reach those in difficulty on the water as quickly as possible. It’s really important that the RNLI has the support of residents of London. I hope people are inspired by my work to come out and support the charity at this fun event, which has a serious message at its heart.'
Helen Church, who balances volunteering for the RNLI with her day job as a civil servant said: 'I love being a volunteer for the RNLI and being a part of a team that saves lives is what it’s all about. Considering the amount of people that use the Thames each day and how treacherous the waters can be, it’s surprising how many people aren’t aware of the RNLI’s work in London. I am incredibly proud and honoured to be immortalised as part of Slikachu’s work.'
For more information about the RNLI Alternative Boat Race or to watch the video streamed live at 5.30pm on Friday 10 April go to www.RNLI.org/BoatRace.
For more information about last year's Thames rescue depicted by Slinkachu go to http://rnli.org/NewsCentre/Pages/RNLI-crew-save-mans-life-and-carry-out-daring-rescue-from-beneath-London-Eye.aspx .