ONE of the world’s first practical life-saving charities (said to be the world’s first) and certainly one of Scotland’s oldest charities – the Glasgow Humane Society – celebrated its 221st birthday yesterday (16th August) with the launch of a fundraising appeal in George Square, Glasgow.
The ‘Riverman Appeal’ aims to raise £100,000 from the public and local businesses to purchase a new patrol boat and support vehicle and new life-saving equipment to continue its vital work on the River Clyde and the city’s waterways.
Launching the appeal, Glasgow’s Lord Provost, Bob Winter, said: “The Glasgow Humane Society is an important and well-loved society to which thousands owe their lives.
“We owe a big debt of gratitude to the Society’s officers and the volunteer lifeguards who patrol the River Clyde and our city’s waterways seven days a week to make them safer for all of us.
“Over the last ten years, the Society has saved the lives of 201 people and prevented a further 611 from drowning.
“So it is with a great sense of pride and purpose that we launch the Riverman Appeal today on the Society’s 221st birthday.
“I hope the people of Glasgow and the business community will respond generously to raise the £100,000 to replace and upgrade the Society’s life-saving equipment.”
Supporting the Lord Provost at the launch was actress Blythe Duff, Detective Inspector Jackie Reid in STV’s Taggart and actor Tom Urie, ‘Big Bob’, Bob O’Hara, in the BBC River City drama – both programmes feature the city and the Clyde.
Donations to the Riverman Appeal can be made by text to 70070 quoting RIVE16 and the amount you wish to donate (for example RIVE16£5) or by paypal through the charity’s website www.glasgowhumanesociety.com or by cheque or postal order to the Glasgow Humane Society, Glasgow Green, Glasgow G40 1BA
Society chair, John Park, said: “This is our first-ever appeal to raise money. We need the £100,000 for much-needed new equipment so we can continue in the years ahead our life-saving work, search and recovery on the River Clyde.
“Now in its third century, the Glasgow Humane Society has still a big role to play in making the city’s river and waterways safer and prevent water accidents.
“We are an ever-present voluntary resource to the statutory emergency services and always on hand for the hundreds of sports and boat users on the Clyde each week and the many thousands who use the waterway walkways.”
The Glasgow Humane Society was set up in 1790 with a £200 legacy from local merchant James Coulter for the “prevention of accidents, rescue and recovery” of people on the Clyde and the city’s waterways. Then, drownings in the Clyde were much more commonplace than today.
Over the years, the Society’s officers – affectionately known as ‘the Riverman’ – and lifeguard volunteers have saved thousands of lives.
In the last hundred or so years, the Society has had only three senior officers – George Geddes 2nd (serving from 1889 – 1932) Benjamin Parsonage (1928 – 1979) and his son, George Parsonage (1979 – till present day).
They have passed down the generations their life-saving and rescue knowledge of the Clyde and the city’s waterways.
Benjamin Parsonage and the Society is highlighted in a special display on the ground floor of the newly opened Riverside Museum on the Clyde.
It features ‘The Bennie’, a river rescue rowing boat designed by Benjamin that would not capsize when rescuing or recovering someone from the water.
George Parsonage, the current Society officer, started at 14 years of age saving lives on the Clyde with father Benjamin. He has saved over 1,500 people and recovered over 500 bodies. His rescue work on the Clyde and other waterways has been nationally and internationally recognized.
He is assisted in the work by assistant officer Antony Coia, appointed in 2006 and a team of over 30 volunteer lifeguards.
Today, the Society continues to patrol the city’s waterways daily and is active in preventing water accidents, through fencing, lifebelts, maintenance of lifebuoys, and its school and educational work.
The Society’s officers undertake the gruesome task of recovering bodies – bringing some comfort to bereaved relatives
The Society is also called on to assist at times of flooding. It was called into action during the Bearsden and Paisley Ferguslie Park floodings some years ago and the Glasgow East End floods of 2002.
The Society works closely in partnership with the statutory agencies, Glasgow City Council, and other councils around Glasgow, Strathclyde Police, the Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service and the Ambulance Service.
The Glasgow Humane Society is a registered Scottish Charity, number SCOO1178.
All media enquiries to:
0141 569 3337
or direct to
John Park, Society chair 07860 762510
George Parsonage 0141 429 4292
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