RNLI crewman celebrates his 1,000 callout this December

An RNLI crew member from Tower Lifeboat station has become the first in the capital to have launched more than 1,000 lifeboat callouts. Stan Todd - nicknamed "Stormy Stan" for his ability to helm a lifeboat in the fiercest of seas - reached the milestone after working for the RNLI for more than 34 years. 

During that time he has plucked drowning swimmers from certain death, rescued people from sinking boats and found frightened children drifting miles out to sea in rubber dinghies. Tower Lifeboat station, where he has worked since 2001, serves the River Thames from its base near Waterloo, including east London's waters. 

He first joined Brighton RNLI as a volunteer in August 1980. Stan, 55, said: "When the emergency bell goes there is still the adrenalin rush the pager used to give me 30 years ago. I like not knowing what is going to happen each day and that if someone out there needs me, I'll do everything I possibly can to be there for them. 

"The River Thames is used by thousands of people every day which is why Tower lifeboat station is the busiest in the RNLI. In London the emergencies often require us to use our medical skills. "One call that sticks in the mind was to a large passenger boat that hit a pier in central London. The collision caused a guy to be thrown from his wheelchair. 

Another man was hurt when he was tossed about in the galley and in total there were 11 people injured. "As is usual in these circumstances, we were first on scene and dealt with a crashed vessel, lots of frightened people and treated a large number of injuries." 

In 1986, Stan was presented with a bravery award for his part in rescuing three people whose yacht had been smashed to pieces against Brighton Harbour wall during Hurricane Charley. After the RNLI lifeboat capsized three times. 

Stan and fellow crewman Roger Cohen swam 200 metres through huge waves towing the yacht's life raft with its crew inside to safety behind them. Despite the ordeal, the crew went back out to sea just five hours later to respond to another emergency. 

He said: "It's healthy to feel fear. If you don't feel fear you shouldn't be doing this because you will become complacent. It's not only yourself you are looking after. You've also got the crew and the casualty's life in your hands. Fear is healthy. It keeps your senses sharp." 

By Rachel Bishop

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