Newbiggin Volunteer Celebrates International Women's Day

Lifeboats News Release

A new crew member at Newbiggin had their first sea training on International Women's Day.

At Newbiggin lifeboat station

RNLI/Richard Martin

Jess Harvey
Jess Harvey, one of the volunteers at Newbiggin, was at sea for the first time today which coincided with this special international day. Jess already has sea experience in her employment with Carnival Cruises where she is part of the Youth Staff team.

Jess in commenting on her sea training today said 'I really appreciate the support and learning opportunities available to me at Newbiggin lifeboat station. Today was my first training exercise at sea and it was enjoyable working with other volunteers on station.'

Whilst Jess is part of the operational team we also have a valuable group of ladies in our fundraising team who play an equally important role in raising funds for the vital sea rescue operation.

For generations, women have launched lifeboats, heaved people out of the water and fundraised millions to help keep the charity afloat. Women have played a hands-on role in lifesaving since the RNLI was formed in 1824.

Twenty-two women have been awarded Medals for Gallantry by the RNLI. Nineteen of these medals were presented in the 19th century, awarded to women who rescued or helped to rescue those in peril on the sea.

One of those women is Grace Darling, from the Victorian era. In 1838, she risked her life rowing to rescue the stranded survivors of the wrecked steamship Forfarshire. She was the first woman to be awarded an RNLI medal.

Other lifesaving heroes are less well known. Like May Stout Hectorson Moar, who saved two men who had capsized in a boat off the Shetland Islands in 1858. She attached a rope to herself and climbed down a cliff to throw a lifebuoy to the men. May hauled them through the surf, safely to the shore.

And then there’s the seriously impressive Margaret Armstrong who helped at every single launch of Cresswell lifeboat, saving lives for 50 years – until her death in 1928. You can learn about these women and others like them in Sue Hennessy’s book, Hidden Depths.

At Newbiggin our women have a special place in history with our women lifeboat launchers been the most decorated in lifeboat history receiving a vellum award in 1927 and again in 1940 for their meritorious service during difficult rescues.


RNLI media contacts
For more information please telephone Richard Martin, RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer Newbiggin on 07980 010544 or or Jim Rice Regional Media Manager – North East & East telephone 07810 658 072 email or contact RNLI Public Relations on 01202 336789

If you would like to find out more about Newbiggin lifeboat station, its volunteers and its heritage then take a look at the local websites

Jess with today's crew

RNLI/Richard Martin

Jess with today's crew
Our ladies in action raising funds

RNLI/Richard Martin

Newbiggin Ladies
Newbiggin's women in action during 1940

RNLI/Richard Martin

Newbiggin Women Lifeboat Launchers

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 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.

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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.