Published 21 May 2019

Every life lost and every life-changing accident is one too many.  And that is why you are all gathered here today. To raise awareness of these dangers, and to work together to prevent them.

The Duke of Cambridge

I am really pleased to be here today to help you launch this hugely important piece of work to keep people safe and prevent drowning on the River Thames.

The Thames has defined London throughout its history. Londoners identify themselves by whether they live North or South of the river. It is a place of work for many, and of great enjoyment for others.

But we must not forget about the dangers the river poses. I was struck to learn that around 700 incidents take place along the Thames annually where people’s lives are at risk, either through accidents or as the result of suicide attempts. And each year, there are sadly more than 30 fatalities on the river.

I have just been meeting with families who have lost loved ones on the river. Their stories are heart-breaking reminders of how important all your work is to keep the river safe. Every life lost and every life-changing accident is one too many. 

And that is why you are all gathered here today. To raise awareness of these dangers, and to work together to prevent them.

Prevention includes practical measures to save lives. Providing and maintaining life-saving equipment along the river, and reducing opportunities to enter the Thames, is very very much needed. I saw some of that today on my journey here along the river.

Prevention also includes the vital work done by so many front line staff. They help to keep the Thames safe, day in day out, in all sorts of weathers. I’m really pleased to have met some of these staff today, and to have heard about their dedication to prevent loss of life on the river.

And of course prevention involves all Londoners. Everyday people, going about their commute or on their journey to the pub, have a hugely important role to play. Don’t be afraid to stop and intervene if you see someone who might be considering taking their own life.

I know you have heard today from Jonny Benjamin and Neil Laybourne, who speak so powerfully about their experiences. A simple – ‘hello, how are you?’ – is sometimes all it takes to save a life.

Keeping the river safe is a real team effort. That is why I’m particularly pleased to see such a broad range of organisations here today. This includes the Port of London Authority, all the emergency services, the RNLI, Her Majesty’s Coastguard, the NHS, the 27 boroughs that border the Thames, and the Department of Health.

Congratulations to all of you on your partnership. I hope you all continue working together to implement the strategy that you are launching together today.

Thank you.