All posts by katedodds

Goodbye to sophie and final rtbp updates for 2020

Since the last RTBP news update on the 1st December, we are out of lockdown but mainly now, under Tier 3 restrictions.  There have been positive steps forward in the roll out of vaccines which is very good news.  This hopefully moves us to a more positive outlook for 2021 and the opportunity to get back on the river! Thank you for all the support and encouragement you have continued to bring to the Boat Project during this challenging year!

We say goodbye to Sophie this week and we wish her well for her next adventures.  She plans to head off to the Caribbean in January but has promised to come back and see us and help out on the boats when she can.  We will be starting the recruitment process to find a new Education Coordinator in the early New Year.

The Christmas Social on Zoom was lots of fun! It wasn’t the same as being together but it was wonderful to share the RTBP warmth and camaraderie.  Glasses were raised to the River Thames Boat Project, mulled wine was supped, carols were sung, we had a little quiz, we played “pin the nose and eyes on the snowman” and there was a good collection of Christmas jumpers, tinsel and Santa hats. 

Take part in the River Thames Boat Project Winter Art Competition! All the details are on the poster: It’s always good to keep thinking about the river and creative projects have helped many people during this difficult time.  The deadline for submissions is 1st February 2021 so there is time to put pen or paint to paper.  We’ll be posting pictures of the finished artwork on the RTBP website.

We’re looking forward to 2021 and restarting our cruises and education days. We have fundraising plans: a quiz via Zoom, some short cruises dependent on group size restrictions and a river based sponsored activity. We also have a couple of RTBP runners getting ready for the Hampton Court Half Marathon in February.  More updates to follow in January. 

The RTBP office will be closed from Friday 18th December for 2 weeks for the staff team Christmas break.  Kate, Pippa and Gunnar will be back at work from Monday 4th January 2021. 

Happy Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!

RTBP’s first AGM on ZOOM

Thank you to everyone for attending the River Thames Boat Project 2020 AGM on Monday evening, 9th November.  It was our first AGM on Zoom, which was a new experience.  We missed being physically present in the same room and sharing catch ups face to face, but it did allow for some people to join the meeting who might normally not be able to attend.  

With Jon Chapman, Chair of Trustees as host, the meeting provided a review of the financial year 2019-20, an update on the current “very different from normal” year and a look ahead to the future.

In 2019-20, we reached 3,322 beneficiaries, with 112 Accessing the Thames cruises and 69 education days. We celebrated 30 years of the charity, and our mission to make the Thames accessible remains as strong as ever.  2020 was set to be busy, with a calendar already full of bookings for therapeutic cruises and education days. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown in March created a very different picture for the year.

The meeting covered the practicalities of re-electing two Trustees, Bob Darke and Stephen West, updates on improvements to the boats from Gunnar, and reports from Sophie on Education, Kate on Marketing and Fundraising and Pippa on client support and bookings and the latest view on the charity’s financial situation.  Jon thanked Peter Oldham, Skipper and Operations Manager, who left the charity in June 2020, for his many years of hard work for River Thames Boat Project.

We all took the opportunity to remember Sir Peter Harrop, our Honorary President, who passed away at the age of 94 in September. His dedication to the charity was phenomenal and he is greatly missed. 

Although we have moved into a second lockdown in November, the green shoots of recovery are in evidence, with some education activities in September and some cruises in October.  We have adapted our services and have new COVID-19 Secure Operating Procedures.  We look forward to bringing special time on the river to our beneficiaries as soon as it is possible again.  We know that it will be restorative and provide much needed respite from the current challenging times. 

Thank you to everyone who supports the charity.  The work that we do would not be possible without such dedication and enthusiasm from so many. 

To view the River Thames Boat Project Review of the Year 2019-20, click here

To view the General Report and Financial Statements for 2019-20, click here.

River Thames Boat Project Autumn updates

Since the beginning of September we have been very happy to have a return of some activities to the river. The four days of School on the River in September with Latchmere School at Teddington Lock were fantastic. It was so great to see children enjoying learning together on the boat and by the lock. We also ran a late afternoon session for local youth group, Teddington Woodcraft Folk. We are happy to welcome school groups onboard through to November, so please get in touch.

Over the last few weeks, we also brought small groups of volunteers together for some refresher training for both education days and cruises and a clean up and spruce for the boats. Everyone enjoyed reconnecting and experiencing the RTBP camaraderie once more. Thank you to everyone that took part.

Last week we were delighted to have our first cruise . It was wonderful to see Thames Discoverer back on the river and to welcome our happy group of 6 passengers onboard. They had a lovely day, cruising upstream and back and said how wonderful it was to be on the river, enjoying the fresh air and having a much needed change of scene.

We had plans for some further cruises over the next few weeks but the announcement last Thursday 15th October about the move to Tier 2 restrictions means that for cruises, we now need to focus just on groups who are from the same household/support bubble. We can take a max of 8 passengers provided they are from the same support bubble.

There’s still the chance for special time on the river, so do get in touch on 020 8940 3509 or if you would like to book either an education day or a cruise.

River Thames boat project is back on the river!

We are delighted to be back on the river! We enjoyed 4 days of ‘School on the River’ with Latchmere School over the last 2 weeks onboard Thames Venturer at Teddington Lock. They were our first environmental education days on the boat since March. It was so good to see the children enjoying time on the river, the sunshine and the usual RTBP activities and warm welcome. We made some changes to be COVID-19 secure, bringing all the activities on deck and shoreside, staff and volunteers wear visors and follow social distancing requirements, hand sanitising takes place regularly. Thank you Latchmere School for being our first groups back onboard!

We’re looking forward to welcoming more schools onboard over the next few weeks and bringing environmental education to life on the river once more.

We are also starting to do some cruises from early October. We have reduced passenger numbers to 6, including carers, in order to comply with social distancing requirements. October and November are great months for enjoying some special time on the river.

Sir Peter Harrop

Dear Friends, volunteers and supporters,

It is with great sadness that I write to let you know that our Honorary President, Sir Peter Harrop passed away last week.  Peter was an amazing supporter of River Thames Boat Project.  He was involved with us from our very early days and was our longest serving volunteer.  He became Chair of Trustees in 2001, passing this role over to Richard Robinson in 2006.  Peter was always positive, supportive and generous with his time.  He was a phenomenal ambassador for the charity, making many strong connections over the years.  He was a fount of knowledge on Boat Project matters and many other things, and a great sounding board for new ideas and plans.  Last year, he gave wonderful speeches at our 30 years celebrations and made a point of coming down to the boat in Kingston to congratulate the RTBP walkers who took part in the sponsored walk. 

Peter was a hugely important part of the RTBP family and he will be greatly missed by us all.

Our thoughts are with Margaret and the rest of his family at this difficult time.

Best regards,


Jon Chapman, Chair of Trustees

A trio of Peters last summer……left to right, Peter Oldham, Peter Harrop, Peter Finch

River Thames Boat Project – June update

We hope that you and your families are all staying well and managing in these challenging times.
A lot has changed in the last few months.  Here is the June update to keep you informed on where things stand with the River Thames Boat Project.

The staff team returned from a period of furlough on the 1st June for a 2 week handover with Peter and the opportunity to regroup, review plans and reconnect with clients. This included time for Sophie on both boats and she is now a proficient skipper for Thames Discoverer. Sophie and Peter also reviewed the status of our volunteer group and plans for volunteering going forward. This will include crew training in the autumn for both cruises and education days, provided we are able to recommence our activities.

There was a Trustee and full staff team meeting on the 8th June via Zoom to discuss plans for the next few months. This was followed by a meeting, also on Zoom, to share these plans with volunteers.

Feedback from our client groups and other organisations that we partner with, confirmed that they are cautious but many are keen to be back on the river with us, as soon as government guidelines allow and it is safe for them. The situation remains fluid and we will keep connected and adjust our plans accordingly. We know that the benefits of time on the river on our boats will be very much appreciated after so much time in isolation.

We were sad to say goodbye to Peter after his fantastic contribution to the charity for the last 13 years. We wish him well in his new role. We are happy to welcome Captain Gunnar Christensen to the team as Interim Boat Manager. Gunnar’s key responsibilities over the coming months will be the management, safety, upkeep and maintenance of our boats as well as being on-call resource in the event of any emergencies. He is a Teddington local and volunteers for the RNLI as a senior lifeboat crew member at Teddington.

We are cautiously optimistic that it will be possible to resume some activities from late September, particularly educational activities. With that in mind, the plan for the next 2 months, is for a further period of furlough for Pippa, Kate and Sophie over the summer. Kate and Pippa are likely to return in August and Sophie at the beginning of September. This will allow us to be fully prepared for resuming some level of activities. By August, we expect to have a much clearer view on further changes to government guidelines and how the return to school will be managed.

The next Trustees’ meeting is on the 13th July following which there will be a further update via email and a Zoom call for Volunteers on the 17th July.

It is a constantly changing landscape, and we will continue to review our strategy and our plans as things develop nationally, and adjust and modify them accordingly.
Special time on the river will be possible again and we all look forward to it very much.
Until then, stay safe,
All the best from the RTBP team

River Thames Boat Project – a message from the Chair of Trustees

Message from Jon Chapman, Chair of Trustees

Dear volunteers, Friends and supporters,

I hope you and your families are safe and well in these very strange and challenging times. Rather than writing to you about what we have planned on the river as the cruising season begins, and all the education activities and initiatives kicking off now that spring is here, I’m sadly having to write about the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic, as you will be unsurprised to hear, has had a very significant negative impact on our operations. Bookings for cruises and educational activities have been cancelled for the next 3 months. In the light of this, the directors, in consultation with our staff, are planning to cease temporarily all operations until further notice.

As part of this decision, the directors have agreed that it would be prudent and sensible to seek the agreement of Kate, Peter and Pippa to certain changes to their terms of employment, the effect of which will be to place them on furlough leave for an initial period until 31 May. As you may know, on 20 March 2020, the government announced the Coronavirus Retention Scheme (CJRS) as part of its response to the pandemic. Under the scheme, any employer can obtain a grant to cover 80% of the salary of employees, up to a total of £2,500 per month for each retained employee.

We have now agreed with Kate, Peter and Pippa that they will go on temporary furlough leave this month until 31 May.

Due to their varying residual responsibilities, there will be different furlough start times, with Peter and Kate starting on 10 April and Pippa on 1 May (as she will be preparing our year-end accounts). There will be no change at all to their remuneration, and they will be paid as normal, but furlough leave will allow the charity to recoup some of those employment costs, an opportunity which the directors feel cannot be ignored in these uncertain times.

Our new Education Coordinator, Sophie, was hired too late for us to be able to ask her to agree to be furloughed, so her position will not change.

During their furlough leave, and as a term of the CJRS, Kate, Peter and Pippa are not permitted to carry out any work at all for the charity, even on a voluntary basis. For that reason, they cannot be contacted when on furlough for any work-related matter and I would ask, please, that you note this. I will keep you informed as to where we are on the furlough arrangements and when we intend to resume operation (we can end any period of furlough, if needed, by one week’s notice).

We have a full handover plan in place for this furlough period and will ensure that any responsibilities of Kate, Peter and Pippa are taken on by directors. Pippa will be monitoring all communications to the charity until 30 April and passing them on to an appropriate trustee, and Sophie will take this role over until 31 May.

I would like to thank Kate, Peter, Pippa and Sophie on behalf of all the directors for all their positivity, great input and help during what has been a very testing few weeks. Really looking forward to seeing them all back to full duties as and when we resume operations, which I sincerely hope will not be too long!

With best wishes,

Jon Chapman