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'Girl Power' as Cullercoats RNLI rescue swimmer in first shout for newest helm

Lifeboats News Release

On Saturday 17 July 2021, Cullercoats lifeboat crew were requested to launch at 5:05pm to reports of a missing swimmer. It was the first shout as helm for volunteer crew member Anna Heslop.


Anna Heslop pictured after her first shout as Cullercoats helm
Cullercoats lifeboat crew quickly assembled and launched in five minutes, making best speed towards King Edward's Bay. The swimmer had last been seen heading north from the Bay approximately half an hour beforehand.

Once on scene, the crew conducted a short search of the local area, which included approaching a nearby yacht to ask for information. The casualty had actually managed to swim to the yacht and, though tired, was safe and well on the aft deck.

The charity's lifeboat crew thanked the yacht crew, transferred the casualty onto the lifeboat and returned him safely to the beach with the assistance of the RNLI lifeguards.

The Marine Police Unit and the Police Helicopter were stood down after being called to help in the search and the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade (TVLB) were able to offer safety advice with the lifeguards once the casualty was ashore. The lifeboat crew then left the scene to return to Cullercoats.

Upon arrival back at Cullercoats, the volunteer crew were met with a surprise. A round of applause and cheering was echoing around the beach, led by a group of young children, who were approximately six years old. They were thrilled to see a woman at the helm and cried out 'The Captain's a Woman!' and 'Girl Power!' on repeat.

Anna Heslop, RNLI Cullercoats Helmswoman, said: 'The response from the public when we got back to station was incredible, especially from the little girls. It is nice to know I might be inspiring other woman and girls to do similar and I am so grateful for the support for the RNLI. I am delighted that everything went according to plan with the shout and that we were able to return the casualty safely to his friends.'

This was the first rescue for Anna since she passed out as the first female helm in 170 years of Cullercoats lifeboat station.

Frank Taylor, Lifeboat Operations Manager for Cullercoats, said: 'I am so pleased this shout had a positive outcome and that everything went so well for Anna's first shout as a helm. Well done, Anna.'

If you find yourself in trouble at the Coast, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. And if you find yourself in trouble in the water, fight your instincts and Float to Live.

RNLI Media contacts
For more information please contact Anna Heslop, RNLI Deputy Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer: [email protected]

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.