Lifeboat crews at Tower station cook Christmas dinner as they await calls

As you tuck into your Christmas dinner spare a thought for the lifeboat crew on duty at Tower lifeboat station - the busiest in Britain.

The crews will be on stand by in case they are called out to rescue people getting in trouble on the river.

Station manager Janet Kelly said: “They will cook turkey and all the trimmings and friends and family will join them but they have to be ready to respond to a call out.

“They have the whole work and there’s a tree. They have a proper kitchen at the station so they cook their meals there.”

Like every other day of the year crews will work a 12 hour shift, from 7am to 7pm and from 7pm to 7am ready at a moment’s notice to take to the river.

Two rescue boats are based at the station and serve anywhere from Battersea down to the Thames Barrier.

Ms Kelly, said: “Last Christmas Day they were called out twice and rescued one person. To date this year they have been called out 460 times and saved 24 lives which is up 20% since this time last year.”

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Ms Kelly said: “The river is quite quiet from the point of view of tourists and commercial vessels. It can be a sad time for some people who might come down to the river and the bridges.”

And with river temperatures at just 3 degrees C, lower than the seasonal average of 7 to 10 degrees time is of the essence to rescue anyone in the water.

The number of people attracted to the river and water based activities has increased over the years, said Ms Kelly.

The station was set up in 2002 and by 2008 was declared the busiest in the country. It is crewed by 46 trained staff and ten volunteers who cover the shifts, working four days on and four days off.

The RNLI is a charity which relies solely on personal donations to keep saving lives at sea and on the tidal reaches of the River Thames.

Earlier this year a team from the Tower station raised �30,000 towards the cost of a new boat through a sponsored mountain climb.