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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 Blessing

Thames Discoverer took part in the annual River Blessing in TeddingtonRTBP has been very happy to take part in this special service on the river in Teddington for the last few years.  This year it was a little different as the service was a much smaller group and was filmed on Friday 12th July to be posted on the church website on Sunday 14th July. The Rev Joe Moffatt, who is also Lifeboat Chaplain for the RNLI, led the service and the procession down to the river.  Jane Newman was part of the procession – flying the flag for RTBP.  Also in the procession was Chris, our friendly Commodore from Tamesis Club.  Thames Discoverer was waiting on the water to join in the celebrations – Gunnar, Ian and Sophie were onboard along with 2 RNLI lifeboat crew.  We enjoyed the RTBP and RNLI collaboration! The sun came out and it was wonderful to see Thames Discoverer back in action on the river, joining in the celebrations.  Thank you to the Rev Joe and to Katherine from St Mary with St Alban Church for inviting us to be part of this special service on the river.  We look forward to more time on the river soon!

Here is the link to watch the ceremony:

Keeping Things Shipshape

July has not been the sunniest month so far, but Gunnar has been getting to know Thames Discoverer and Thames Venturer.  The boats have been waiting patiently at the dock and we are looking forward to resuming our activities on the river when it’s possible.  In the meantime, Gunnar has been out on the river with volunteer skipper, Ian, on Thames Discoverer and having a general spruce and tidy onboard and at the dock.   A small team of wonderful volunteers came together, keeping social distancing in mind, to do a tidy up and much needed clean. Nigel, Terry, Ian, Jon and Gunnar’s daughter, Jule, rolled their sleeves up and got stuck in.  The sun did come out from time to time and Thames Discoverer and Thames Venturer enjoyed some TLC.

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

Supporting the community

RTBP Friends and volunteers have been helping where they can with PPE supplies and other support in the community.  Carter House Nursing Home, Lee House Residential Care, Mottistone Grove and Ruils all wanted to share their thanks for the support.  Thames Venturer and Thames Discoverer are still waiting patiently in the sunshine at the mooring in Kingston.  We look forward to being back on the river as soon as it is safe.