Friends of RTBP Summer 2013 Newsletter

Friends of RTBP Summer Newsletter 

June 2013

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Dear Friends of the River Thames Boat Project, 

In the last newsletter Paul said he was delighted to welcome me to the team.  Somehow in the intervening months I’ve moved from being a team member to Editor of this newsletter. Hmmm.  See what happens when you forget to duck?  But seriously, I’m delighted to be here and hope you enjoy what follows.

Some of the articles in this issue are a bit longer than previously in response to what you said you wanted to hear more about - the boat, the people and fundraising. Please keep telling us what you like (or not!) and what else you would like to see.

Martha Tressler

Friends' Open Evening

The Friends' Open Evening on 2nd July is a great opportunity to come along and socialise as well as show off the Venturer to your friends and family.

The objective of the evening is to recruit new Friends, and we know there is no better way to do that than to show people the boat and to talk to the experts. There will also be Trustees, members of the Friends team, Volunteers and other Friends to catch up with.

The event is free (although we have never yet said no to a donation) and we will be serving wine and beer and nibbles. Anthea is asking people to RSVP in order to assist her team with the catering  - please email .

The boat will be open from 6:30 until 9:00, moored just at the end of the barge dock (click here for directions). This is an informal event so feel free to pop along at any time.  Please come along!

Founders' Cruise

Would you like to join us for an evening cruise on the Venturer? On the evening of the 16th July Sir Peter Harrop is hosting a cruise on board the Venturer. What better way than for “early” members of the Boat Project to catch up on board the boat that you supported in the early days, raising valuable funds for the charity which you helped create.

Tickets for the evening are £30 a head including drinks and nibbles. The evening is exclusively for Friends and their guests. Joining us will be Margaret Harrop and crew for the evening will be Miranda and Alison.

If you would like to book a ticket on this historic cruise please email us at

Update from the Chair        Photo of Louise Sibley, chair of RTBP

Dear Friends

Now we are busy on the river, and our boat is proving as popular as ever, the main focus of my attention since I took on the chair role has been on the other part of what we do - fund-raising.

Fund-raising is a less glamorous activity, compared with our core purpose, providing boating facilities, but it is essential. So we need to look at it differently.  We provide boating facilities AND we work to make those facilities affordable by our clients.

As anyone who has ever owned a boat knows (and I have), it is an expensive activity. Add to that all the usual costs of running a small trading enterprise and you end up with quite an annual expense. We can't offer our service for free (and would it be valued if it were?) but we can make it affordable. That distinguishes us as a charity and affordability is another reason, in addition to the excellent experience they have, that our clients come back to us year after year. And that, in effect, is what all our fund-raising is about.

So in the interests of affordability (as well as visibility) we have packed our 2013 calendar with fund-raising and community events. Through special trips and opening up our boat at the many festivals along the river during the season, we bring in potential clients, new volunteers and all-important funds.

Best of all, our events offer lots of opportunities for you and others to come onboard, look, learn and get involved. So if you haven't visited us yet, I hope you will - particularly at our Friends' Open Evening on 2nd July. Sadly for me, I can't join you. I will be on a trip with uni students to the Middle East but will raise a (non-alcoholic) glass to the Friends from a desert tent - and thank you for your vital contribution to our work.

Our season is busy and our clients keep coming back. And you are very much part of making that possible.

Louise Sibley

Chair, River Thames Boat Project

Skipper's Update

Where’s the summer !!

Fortunately we have a sturdy group of clients who are happy to brave the bracing weather and enjoy some early season cruises. A volunteer ominously reminded me that ash before oak means we’re in for a soak ….. I hope not but thankfully we have the canopy to help shelter from the worst.

Eyes have been peeled for seals since one was spotted recently in Putney – a sure sign the river is healthy. Speaking of health, our new education co-ordinater Gemma Hindi will shortly be conducting an environmental audit of the Venturer to make sure we are doing all we can to stay clean and green – we’ll let you know how we fare!

The building works on the old barge dock continue with signs that we are getting closer to being able to take our place on our new mooring. There’s plenty of action on the river too, with the imminent completion of the new Walton bridge and the construction of a new weir at Molesey – so even more of interest to see during a cruise.

David Bell and Pete Gallon masterminded the installation of our new bilge alarms. I’m just waiting to hear what the next improvement it is that they have up their sleeves. Someone suggested a new gangplank for the new mooring – what a great idea!  And I’ll keep asking for a new collapsible wheelhouse so we can go beyond Windsor!

We have welcomed 12 new volunteers onboard this year – some of whom have already enjoyed crewing and discovered it isn’t as daunting as the crew training.

I’m sure there will be plenty more news and stories as the season progresses.

Until then….


From our 'Chief Engineer'

If you have ever wondered about the engineering side of the Thames Venturer then trustee David Bell is the man to talk to. As our volunteer chief engineer, it is his responsibility to ensure the Venturer always starts first time and everything mechanical works without a hitch. In addition to which he has a program of enhancements to the boat covering everything from wiring to plumbing. A background in nuclear submarines probably comes in handy in some of the Venturer's more inaccessible areas. However the rumours of Pete asking David for torpedoes to be installed is unsubstantiated.

David Bell in the engine roomOur Lister 6 cylinder diesel is a marinised version of a Ford truck engine which over the years has had a great deal of care and attention from David to ensure we have our current levels of reliability (although these days it is Skipper Pete who does the day to day maintenance).

David’s biggest challenge on becoming involved with the Boat Project over ten years ago was to sort out the steering. Wear on the pinion wheel coupled with some previous “professional” maintenance meant occasionally it would all come loose and make steering a challenge. With the generosity of his then employer, SELEX Systems, David was able to make 3D prototypes until satisfied they had an accurate template for Kew Bridge Engines to forge a new bespoke component.

Over the last winter, David (assisted by our other volunteer engineer, mate Pete Gallon) has been busy working in preparation for the move to the new mooring when we will have our own sewage pump-out at the dock. Back when the Venturer was converted, pumps were installed, but these haven’t been run for the last 20 years thanks to very generous use of the pump-out at Turks. The port pump is now running which bodes well for the remaining work to be completed. David has also been busy installing bilge alarms which further add to the safety of the Venturer.

We asked David if there was anything he would like the Friends to save up and buy for the boat. His instant answer - a new more efficient more ecological engine. Hmm.  After we recovered from that suggestion we asked him for a slightly more economical request and he suggested a calorifier, which uses waste engine heat to heat the boat, making it more comfortable for passengers and saving on heating oil.  Sounds reasonable!

RTBP is Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club Ladies' Captain's Charity

It all started with Wendy Moss choosing RTBP as her annual charity when she was Ladies’ Captain at Roehampton Golf Club several years ago.  Di Gregory, currently Ladies’ Captain at Royal Mid-Surrey, is also a member at Roehampton, and when she chose her charity for this year she remembered us – a local charity, connected to the river which runs right past Royal Mid-Surrey’s courses (in fact over some of the holes when the river is high!). So we were chosen!  And they have been busy raising lots of money for us since late 2012.
This is a year long project with numerous events to our benefit. So far over £1,800 has been raised with raffles and sweeps at a Golf Bridge Day, the Spring Meeting and a Ladies’ Invitation Golf Day, and at an evening at Sheen Uncovered and Ruby Blue (two shops in East Sheen who put on an evening for the Ladies’ Section with 10% of all takings given to the Charity). And then on 8th June the Golf Club’s Charity Day was held – golf (of course!) followed by lunch, with a raffle and an auction.

We fielded a team of four (Sir Peter Harrop, Peter Low, Wendy Moss and Sue Glynn) who didn’t quite make it to the winner’s enclosure but had a great time (Wendy’s comment “the weather was perfect – enough wind to make it interesting!”) and Peter Low did the honours for the Boat Project with a brief talk during lunch about the Charity, the boat, the clients, the staff and the volunteers. Miranda and Ivor Gibson also put in an appearance as (non-golfing!) helpers on the day. We don't have numbers for money raised on the 8th but will let you know next time.
There is still more to come with an Autumn Meeting and various Club days, but in addition to the funds raised this has also been an excellent profile raiser, with (according to Di) a number of members becoming aware of the Boat Project for the first time and talking about ways to contribute and/or access the Venturer.
So many thanks to Di Gregory and those working with her both for choosing us and then doing such an amazing job of raising funds, and awareness, for the Boat Project.

Venturer Photography

We mentioned the Venturer Photography cruises in our last newsletter and several of you signed up. The cruise on 3rd June was a fully booked success and included members of the Roehampton Photographic Club. This should help spread the news about our cruises and the charity to a broader audience. It was a beautiful evening (see the pictures). 
Venturer Photography Cruise 3rd Jun 2013
Those of you with cameras (isn’t that everyone now?) who fancy a lovely evening on the river with excellent coaching from John Frye should put 7th August in your diaries and sign up to go. It’s your last chance this season!

Charity News

Programme Development

Gemma Hindi, our Environmental Education Co-ordinator, joined us in April and has taken to her new role like a duck to water! She has been working hard raising our School on the River profile with local schools, developing our new Environmental Fun Days for Cubs, Scouts and family groups and she has booked in the London Environmental Education Forum (LEEF) for a sustainability weekend in June 2014 - our first booking for next season!

  • Waitrose Community Matters:  Thanks to an approach by volunteer Jenny Linter, the Boat Project was chosen by Waitrose Richmond as one of the three charities they supported in May via their Community Matters initiative. Jenny has also approached other local branches, so if you shop in Waitrose please use your green tokens to support our work.
  • Rotary Support:  As part of the activities to mark the Charity’s 25th  anniversary we have been invited to give talks to local Rotary Clubs, many of which supported the Charity with donations at its inception. The Rotary Club of Kew Gardens held a buffet (and raffle) for their outgoing President on board the Venturer on a glorious sunny June evening, the Rotary Club of Kingston has generously donated £500, and Trustee and Friends’ Chair Paul Boyd is giving a talk to the Rotary Club of Twickenham on the 24th June.
  • Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club: We are very grateful to Lady’s Captain Di Gregory for choosing the Boat Project as her charity during her captaincy - see the article above.

'Report Card' for Friends Re-launch

What better way to produce our six month update for the Trustees, than via the newsletter?

At the AGM we announced that a key part of the Friends' re-launch was to create an organising team. The plan was created by Alison and myself so we knew we already had a team of two. Anthea then kindly volunteered which meant we were off and running. As you will see from the Friends' Open Evening article, Anthea is heading up that event and has been joined by Carolyn Smith - welcome Carolyn.

The newsletter was another big part of our strategy, keeping Friends informed and engaged. Martha kindly volunteered to take on the role of editor (leading to a significant quality improvement in the last edition). Whilst the newsletter is written for the Friends we know it is of interest to others. The circulation of the Spring edition increased as it was sent out by Louise Sibley, the new Chair, to all volunteers, with a hard copy going to some of the funders.

We are still working on other parts of the re-launch strategy - the development of our Corporate Friends Program and the launch of our own website (more news on that soon). And the one thing we have not forgotten is the focus on money. The charity needs money and the Friends is about helping to provide hard cash. Check out the figures from Alison in her article.

In summary, it has been a busy six months and we have a lot more to do.

With thanks to the team and all of the Friends for your support. Please let us know what else you would like to see.

Paul Boyd, Friends Trustee


Friends' Open Evening
Founders' Cruise
Update from the Chair
Skipper's update
From our 'Chief Engineer'
RTBP is Royal Mid-Surrey Charity
Venturer Photography
Charity News
'Report Card' for Friends Re-launch

Events Calendar

2nd July Friends Open evening
13th July Kingston Regatta - open day
16th July Founders' Cruise
7th August Venturer Photography evening cruise
7th September Great River Race: Friends party
8th September Teddington Festival - open day
14th September Walton Heritage - open day

Friends are welcome at all open days and encouraged to bring guests.
As a Friend claim your free cup of tea and receive VIP treatment !

Financial News

Membership was at 52 at the start of 2012. Since then we have recruited 15 new Friends to take us to 67 (not including our Corporate Friends). Our annual income from Friends' subscriptions is currently running at £7,500 and almost £2,000 of that is from new Friends who have joined us in the last 18 months. That's almost a 30% increase in the number of Friends and a 40% increase in our annual subscription income which is great news.

We also have generated £1,000 from our new Corporate Friends programme and are looking to raise additional funds from our social and other fundraising events throughout the year.  We are well on our way to hitting our first target of generating £10,000 per annum by the end of this year for the Boat Project, but there is still much more we want to acheive and we will be setting more ambitious targets for next year!

Alison Oliver, Friends CFO (and general admin flunky!)

Can you help?

If you have ideas about the Friends, if you would like to help run it, or simply provide feedback on how we can improve things, then let us know. Drop Alison a line :

The ship's dog, Archie.  Main task is keeping Peter out of trouble when he's not on the boat! (Photo not by John!)

Contact us:

Phone: 020 8940 3509

Friends of the River Thames Boat Project
Supporting the work of the River Thames Boat Project - raising funds to provide access to the river

Registered Charity No.: 1080281
Registered Office: 66 Hill Rise, Richmond, TW9 1TW

David Bell, Trustee and Chief Engineer! (photos by Paul Boyd)

New Friends Website

Scheduled to launch at the Friends Open Evening on the 2nd July is the new Friends Website. This will be the place for the latest news and information on the Friends.

Presently (June 2013) the website goes to a page on the main charity site. After the launch it will go to our own site. Initially it is very simple but over time we hope to develop it further.

We would love to get your feedback on the site, either via our email or hit the feedback button - when it’s live.

The golfing four - Peter Low, Sir Peter Harrop, Wendy Moss and Sue Glynn. (Photo by ano golfer!)

Newsletter Feedback

A while back we asked some of you to complete a short questionnaire about our Newletter so far, and several of you did. We are using what you said, but want you to keep the comments coming.  If you have any suggestions regarding what you want to see more (or less) of please tell us.

If you have any specific ideas for articles please say so - fundraising activities, stories about the boat or the clients, whatever!  This is your newsletter - feel free to contribute to its content!  Email

And just in, the Venturer Photography group from 17th June - another beautiful evening!

Unless otherwise stated
all photographs in this Newsletter are courtesy of John Frye (© John Frye Photography, John is a RTBP volunteer and co-founder of Venturer Photography.

Rotary Club of Kew Gardens on board
The Rotary Club of Kew Gardens on board (photo by John Fletcher)

Fundraising Help

Some of our fundraising stories provide ideas to build on, or some of you may have your own ideas of ways to encourage generous people to part with a bit of their cash for the Boat Project. 

The Royal Mid-Surrey story includes a local retailer who hosted an evening event with a percentage of the takings for the charity - are there others out there who might be interested? (In fact we already know of one more.)

Raffles and sweeps of various kinds can be inserted into many types of events - do you know of an event or organisation that might be encouraged to add a bit of fund raising to an existing event?

It doesn’t need to be a major effort; lots of small efforts can have a major impact.  Tell us your fundraising ideas – or stories!  If you have an idea or story let us know at

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