Directors’ Report 2016-17

General Information

The River Thames Boat Project is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee that is registered with the Charity Commission.

The charity’s mission is to give people opportunities of experiencing river and waterways’ environments to the benefit of their personal, social and educational development.  We focus especially on children, young people, older people and those with disabilities from London and the South East.


Baroness Jane Campbell of Surbiton DBE
Anne Usher (nee Dickins) MBE
David Suchet CBE

Honorary President: Sir Peter Harrop KCB

The Trustees and Directors of the Company are:

Paul Barry
David Bell
Jon Chapman
Bob Darke (joined September 2017)
Luke Gannon
Keith Knox (Vice Chair)
Peter Low
Stephen Mowat (resigned October 2016)
Jane Newman
Alison Oliver (retired November 2016)
Richard Robinson
Louise Sibley (Chair)
Byron Turner
Stephen West (joined March 2017)

Company Secretary: Linda Varney (from November 2016)

Principal Activities 

The charity provides educational, therapeutic and recreational cruises and activities on the Thames, utilising our community boat, Thames Venturer, which is crewed by volunteers working with qualified skippers. We run day and residential cruises designed to provide a beneficial experience for people with physical or learning disabilities, and for older people. Thames Venturer is soon to be joined by our second accessible boat, Thames Discoverer, which will be utilised primarily for day cruising.

We offer a range of educational programmes and activities, mainly (but not exclusively) for younger people. These include School on the River, Eco Venturers and specialised training for youth and youth support groups. Our educational activities are professionally led and supported by volunteer teachers.

Further information about how we deliver our charitable purpose and what we do is available on our website,

Community presence and fundraising

As part of building community links, and for fundraising purposes, we take our boat to local river-based events and hold open days each year, when members of the public are encouraged to come on board, take a tour and learn about our work.

We also use our boat, when not on core client or community events, to help make the boat available to local groups and help us earn additional income in a manner that also fulfils the spirit of our charitable purpose. We offer the boat for summer evening cruises for experiential learning opportunities, for community hospitality events or meetings, to Friends of the River Thames Boat Project (an organisation run by volunteers to bring financial support to the charity) and to volunteers for their own gatherings and fund-earning events.

Details of events, training days and income-raising cruises in 2016-17 are provided in our Statement of Public Benefit.

Staff and volunteers

Our activities are managed and delivered by a team of five staff each with specialised talents and skills in their area of responsibility.  In 2016-17 these were:

Pippa Butterfield (part-time), responsible for client bookings, office management and finance

Sonja Freebody (part-time, joined June 2016), who oversees client and event marketing activities, external communication and general fundraising

Gemma Hindi (part-time, left November 2016), co-ordinator of our education and learning activities.  Replaced by Zaria Greenhill (part-time, joined January 2017), co-ordinator of our education and learning activities

Miranda Jaggers (full-time), the charity’s longest-serving employee, who is project managing the build of the charity’s second boat and is also responsible for grant funding and community liaison.

Peter Oldham (full-time), who is responsible for leading all boat and crew operations, training and maintenance and, as skipper of Thames Venturer, is the primary interface with our client groups on board.

The charity’s staff (l-r): Miranda, Peter, Zaria, Pippa, Sonja

The charity benefits from the support of many volunteers, who act as boat crew, teachers and training leaders, event and fundraising supporters and office helpers.  A full list of our volunteers is given here.

Equality, training and people development

The directors pursue a policy of equal treatment towards people with physical or mental disabilities. People with disabilities are an important part of our clientele. Thames Venturer was converted to make it possible for wheelchair users to have access to all passenger facilities on board, including the toilets and shower facilities. Our new boat Thames Discoverer, currently under construction, has been specially designed as an accessible boat with all the needs of our client groups in mind.

We apply a policy of equal treatment for all staff and volunteers, who need to be able to perform the duties required of them in a safe, timely and effective manner, recognising that our clients’ health, safety and welfare remains paramount.

This means we devote a significant number of days a year to developing staff and volunteers’ skills. Mates’ and crew training covers boat operations, health and safety, emergency drills, and disability awareness; in addition, we run special teacher and activity leader training days for those working on our environmental education programmes and activities. We also offer training in risk assessment for external groups and are actively growing this activity.


The directors conduct a periodic assessment of the risks to which the company is exposed, including business risk and operational risk because of the nature of our work on the water. The likelihood and relative seriousness of the identified risks were reviewed during the last year and several minor modifications made. It is the company’s policy to keep up-to-date its risk assessments, and to adopt measures to mitigate or minimise identified risks to the greatest extent practicable.

Directors’ Report – Review of the Year

Public Benefit Statement

Financial Results


Donors and Benefactors


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