Donate now

The RNLI has over 300 female crew, eight of whom are volunteers at Rye Harbour

Lifeboats News Release

International Women’s Day, March 8 2021, is a great reminder of how lucky we are to have so many dedicated women volunteers working so hard to continue the work of the RNLI Charity in Saving Lives at Sea.


Betty Broocks volunteer extraordinaire

Women of the world want an equal future, one that is sustainable, peaceful and with equal rights and opportunities. Women need to be included where important decisions are being made. This inclusivity and effective participation and leadership drives progress forward for everyone.

For generations women have launched lifeboats and worked alongside other crew to ensure that boats could set sail efficiently and speedily to help people and vessels in distress. More recently, they have crewed the boats and acted as shore crew and have played a vital role in raising funds, many millions of pounds, to help keep the charity afloat.

The RNLI has more than 300 women crew, five female coxswains and forty-four helms. At Rye Harbour there are eight female crew (one of whom is a designate helm) and a good proportion of the fund-raising team is women and a female Press Officer. There are a third of our lifeguards who are women too: they play a vital role in preventing accidents before they happen with good safely advice and keen stewardship of the shore.

Claire Robus-Bolton, fundraiser, former crew, mother of two female crew and wife of the LOM, Paul Bolton, summed up Rye Harbour,

‘We have many women coming forward to volunteer at our lifeboat station in the Harbour and they are made to feel welcome and included from the word go. The testament to this fact is just how long they stay. Betty Broocks began as a volunteer in 1964 and is still raising funds for us to this day.’

It is 50 years since the first woman qualified as an RNLI crew member and all 238 RNLI stations are celebrating on March 8 2021 the vital contributions all the women volunteers make today.


Izzy and Tia Bolton sisters on the crew at Rye Harbour


supporting each other throughout the pandemic


training together to keep the team strong


RNLI Lifeguards at Hastings Beach

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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

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.