As the charity reaches its fundraising target, founder Dave Benson explains what it will mean for river safety – and how you can help
I set up York Rescue Boat after having worked as a doorman by the river in York and being involved in several rescues, one of which I received a commendation from the police.
Whilst working by the river I witnessed on a weekly basis many people jumping into the river with a total disregard for their own lives or that of others, often also taking up valuable police and ambulance time.
I also knew Rich Horrocks who died on the river and that was also a catalyst for my idea.
With these combined I wanted something to be done, so 18 months or so ago I came up with York Rescue Boat.
York Rescue Boat is set up in York to provide a physical and proactive commitment to furthering the safety of the rivers in York.
We aim to achieve this by means of a patrol and rescue boat, education and awareness.
With future progression York Rescue Boat endeavours to provide a stand-by team that will respond as an auxiliary service to the 999 services in areas of search & rescue and community flood assistance.
Initially the patrols will be aimed at the busier, more high risk times of the week such as student nights, Friday nights, Saturday afternoons through to the early hours. In time I hope to extend these patrols.
During patrols we will be in constant communication with police, CCTV, doorstaff, street angels and any other night safe scheme to be able to respond to incidents on and around the river.
These situations could be where a vulnerable person needs assistance and the reporting of anti-social behaviour.
We are getting great support from the local community. We’re always looking for more volunteers to join our fundraising team or become potential crew members.
We have more permanent slots to fill in more managerial and planning levels.
All crew will be trained to a high level in boat handling, first aid, water rescue techniques and we hope to cross train with other search and rescue agencies.
Raising funds, hailing heroes
It raised thousands of pounds at a fundraising ball at the Royal York Hotel on Friday (October 17).
With match-funding provided on the night by Barclays bank, and money from previous events, the charity has the £10,000 it needs to buy the boat and launch the service.
During the evening York Rescue Boat presented a Young Community Hero Award to Liz Cooper, 14. Earlier this month she talked a woman out of jumping into the Ouse.
She was presented with the award by the Lord Mayor of York, Cllr Ian Gillies.