The women making waves at Teddington RNLI tell their story
As International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world on Thursday March 8 2018, it seems only fitting to highlight the great contribution made by women in the RNLI.
Teddington RNLI Lifeboat Station has an ever-growing number of women playing a significant part in the running of the station, crew and shore crew operations.
So for this article, we thought it would be great to hear a little about the women who volunteer at Teddington RNLI Lifeboat Station, which is situated at the end of the tidal River Thames, serving local communities at Teddington, Kingston, Surbiton, Thames Ditton, Hampton, Molesey, Twickenham and Richmond (which are all on our patch).
Left to right in the photo are:
Jules Kendal, Sam Armatage, Gianna Saccomani, Kay Whittaker, Grace Blackshaw, Nic Peters and Bria Barker.
They all bring their own unique skills, experience and personalities to the mix of professionalism and team spirit found, as in all other lifeboat stations, at Teddington.
So, what do they all feel about being part of the RNLI? These are their stories in their own words…
‘My job is a Policy Advisor for an international development charity. My husband and I moved to the area recently. We started volunteering with the RNLI together as a way to get involved in the local community and because, as landlocked sailors, we like to stay connected with the water. Learning more about the huge role that the Teddington crew plays in helping vulnerable people made me even more passionate about getting involved.
Joining the RNLI has helped me to not just get to know the local community, but actually feel a part of it. And as I progress through training I look forward to being able to serve this community more and more.’
‘I’m a local girl and mum of three. I was ready for a new challenge and with my late father being a keen yachtsman I found myself being drawn to Volunteering for RNLI Teddington. 14 months on and now a crew member it’s been both interesting, with always lots to learn, and rewarding.
What I have also found is an inspirational group of people with a wealth of knowledge and backgrounds always ready to teach, share information and train each other with enthusiasm and encouragement! You get a real sense that everyone is valued and brings different skills. I feel privileged to be part of such an amazing team.’
‘As a self-employed Property Renovator, I was looking for new challenges when the RNLI flyer dropped through my door – saying no experience needed, just enthusiasm! As a more mature woman, I have learnt that life experience is an asset - and with great training and boundless encouragement from my fellow volunteers, I have just qualified as boat crew, with three shouts already under my belt.
I absolutely love being part of this amazing organisation and as a station with seven women volunteers look forward to the day we have an all-female crew out on a shout! (Sorry boys!)’
I’m a Company Director so why am I in the RNLI? I fell in love with the RNLI as a little girl, during holidays in St. David's, Wales. It was so exciting, hearing the maroons go off and then watching their All-Weather Lifeboat (ALB) fly down the slipway into the sea. I had no idea there were lifeboat stations on the Thames until I moved to Teddington three and a half years ago and saw Teddington's brand new D Class lifeboat – the D785 Peter Saw - at Teddington Lights Up, the town's Christmas street party. The first thing I asked was - where is the station? The second, how can I get onto the crew? Lol.
Being part of Teddington Lifeboat is like being part of a huge extended family. I feel so proud to be a part of it. I joined because I wanted to rescue people and it feels amazing to be able to help people when they're in need.'
‘Well I’m a student and the youngest member of the RNLI Teddington crew. I first came down to the station as part of my DofE volunteering and almost instantly I was hooked. As soon as I was 17, I joined properly as trainee crew. For me, I love being part of something bigger. There's a whole community of lifeboat men and women around the country, linked by their shared love of working as a team, making a difference and, yes, driving pretty fast boats. I can't imagine my life without the RNLI and I hope I'll never have to.’
‘My day job is a Hydrographic Surveyor, so you could say water plays a big part in my life! From Thames Young Mariners and Twickenham Sea Cadets as a child to open water swim training and cycling the Thames Path as an adult, I am proud to be giving back to the community and the river that have both shaped me.
Despite my pager not going off yet, I feel that I have been a visible member of the lifeboat crew at many local events, including the summer fete pram race and Christmas Lights Up. And being involved in cross party training with other local clubs such as the incredible Hampton Canoe Club has been a real highlight. Proud walking in to Tower Lifeboat Station for the first time, even if it was for a casualty care course. I feel I am now shaking off the imposter syndrome!’
'I have been surrounded by the lifeboat community in Teddington while growing up and I couldn’t wait for the first opportunity to learn more of what goes on and help out if I can. The RNLI take supporting Duke of Edinburgh very seriously and I was delighted to be accepted to do my Bronze level volunteering section there.'
According to Jon Barker, one of our most experienced helms and a founder volunteer at Teddington RNLI:
‘We have always valued the role of women at our station. In fact, my wife, Sarah, was one of the very first crew members when we opened our station in 2002. And we have now moved through the generations and one of my two daughter’s Bria is experiencing life at our station as part of her DofE training. There is no doubt at all about the many particular skills that women can bring to lifeboating.
We know, for example, that, on some of our more difficult shouts, the special empathy and approach of women crew can be a massive benefit. Notwithstanding, our crew and shore crew – male or female – are treated exactly the same, and no concessions are made to anyone on what is required of them…and nobody would have it any other way!’
Further info on International Women’s Day
Teddington RNLI Lifeboat Station:
Contributing authors Gianna Saccomani, Jon Chapman and of course all our women crew in their own words!
Team Photo by Jon Barker
RNLI media contacts
• Paul Stallard, Teddington RNLI Press Officer, 07879 810 817 / firstname.lastname@example.org
• Paul Dunt, RNLI Media Officer London/South East Tel: (0207) 6207426Mob: (07785) 296252/ email@example.com
• For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789
For the latest RNLI news, photos and videos, visit the RNLI News Centre
Key facts about the RNLI
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally, the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.
The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.
Learn more about the RNLI
Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries
Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.
The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.