‘Stormy Stan’ first RNLI Thames hero to launch on 1,000 emergency ops

RNLI's Tower lifeboat crew in action and [inset] Stan Todd — first to reach 1,000 rescues

RNLI's Tower lifeboat crew in action and [inset] Stan Todd first to reach 1,000 rescues - Credit: RNLI

One of London’s longest-serving lifeboat crewmen has become the first to have launched on 1,000 emergency rescues.

RNLI rescue team in action on the Thames

RNLI rescue team in action on the Thames - Credit: RNLI

Stan Todd, full-time helmsman at the RNLI’s Tower lifeboat station, has helped rescue nearly 300 people and saved 47 lives along the way.

The 55-year-old hero reached the milestone after clocking up 34 years rescuing people on the Thames and at sea.

Stormy Stan, as his crewmates call him, has plucked drowning swimmers from certain death, rescued passengers from sinking boats and reached frightened children drifting miles out to sea in rubber dinghies.

“When the emergency bell goes, there is still the adrenalin rush the pager used to give me 30 years ago,” Stan said.


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“If someone out there needs me, I’ll do everything I can to be there for them.”

Stan joined the RNLI as a 21-year-old volunteer in on the South Coast in 1980 before being recruited to the newly-formed RNLI service on the Thames in 2001.

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Tower lifeboat station is now the busiest anywhere in the British Isles.

His ‘Stormy Stan’ nickname comes from his ability to helm a lifeboat in the fiercest of waters.

“One call that sticks in the mind was to a large vessel that hit a pier on the Thames where a passenger was thrown from his wheelchair,” Stan recalls. “Another was hurt tossed about in the galley—there were 11 people injured in that incident.”

Stan received a bravery award in 1986 for rescuing three people on a yacht that smashed against Brighton Harbour wall during Hurricane Charley. His lifeboat capsized three times, but Stan and fellow crewman Roger Cohen swam 200 yards through huge waves towing the yacht’s life-raft behind them to safety with his crew inside.

He went back out to sea just five hours later—despite his ordeal—to another emergency.

“It’s healthy to feel fear, or you become complacent,” Stormy Stan tells you. “It’s not only yourself you’re looking after, but the crew and the casualty’s life in your hands. Fear keeps your senses sharp.”

But he is philosophical about the “highs” involved with rescue work.

“You also come into contact with tragedy and death,” he adds. “If I go home and I’m a bit quiet, my wife knows it was a tough day and we’ll talk about it.”

Meanwhile, Tower lifeboat was involved in its latest night-time rescue when London Coastguard reported a man in the river near Tower Bridge at 11pm on December 19.

The lifeboat arrived within minutes, after people on a passing passenger boat had spotted the man and threw a lifebuoy to him.

The crew pulled the man out and he was later taken to hospital where he recovered.

The RNLI , which needs public donations to keep afloat, has rescued 372 people in London in the past 12 months alone, saving 25 lives in the process.

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