First female Helm at Cullercoats RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

Cullercoats RNLI crew member, Anna Heslop, has become the first female helm at the station after she passed out as a helm on the station's Atlantic 85 class lifeboat this week.

RNLI/Alex Bateman

Anna at 17 when she joined the crew, and now as a Helm at Cullercoats Station

Anna joined the crew when she was 17, after witnessing a person in trouble in the water at Whitley Bay, where she called the ‘sea police’ to come and carry out a rescue.

At the invitation of the crew, she was soon down at the station to see what the RNLI do first hand. Following the visit, there was no turning back for Anna as she joined the crew and has been saving lives at sea since. In the intervening years, Anna has trained, being passed as competent crew, tractor driver and most recently as helm - a first for the station as she is the first female helm in the station’s 170 year history!

Anna has dedicated herself to saving lives at sea through her voluntary work as a crew member and assessor at Cullercoats RNLI, as well as being the Face-to-Face Fund Raising Manager for the RNLI in the North East. Now with another string to her bow, Anna will now command the search and rescue vessel on call outs and continue her work training and assessing crew.

Cullercoats RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Frank Taylor said: ‘It is a tremendous achievement for Anna to pass her Helm training plan and to do so, as she has, with flying colours. We are so proud of her success and that she has become the first female helm at Cullercoats.’

Anna said: ‘I am absolutely thrilled to have been passed out as helm and I am so grateful for the support I have received from the crew, my friends and family. I’m very proud to be the first female helm at our station as I hope it encourages more women to join the crew.’



Anna Heslop

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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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