First female helm for Fowey RNLI lifeboat crew in the station’s 160 year history
21-year-old Amelia Luck has passed out as the first ever woman qualified to take command of a Fowey RNLI lifeboat in the station’s 160 year history. Amelia passed out as helm on the station’s D class inshore lifeboat, Olive Three.
In addition to being the first female helm in Fowey, Amelia becomes one of only three female helms in Cornwall. There are just five female helms in the South West and 53 nationwide.
Amelia joined Fowey RNLI as a volunteer lifeboat crew member, aged 17, in 2017. Fowey Lifeboat Operations Manager, Chris Ogg said: ‘Since 2017 Fowey’s volunteer lifeboat crew have saved 16 lives and aided 335 people in trouble at sea, during a total of 176 launches of our all-weather lifeboat and inshore D class lifeboat. Amelia has personally attended 134 training and live lifeboat launches, of which 36 were actual rescue incidents, clocking up a total of over 355 volunteer hours at sea during this time.’
When asked how she feels to be the first female helm in Fowey lifeboat history, Amelia said: ‘I don’t really think of it like that, I see myself as just another helm. I don’t think there’s any difference, no-one makes me feel any different here and it’s all very inclusive. One of the female trainers that I had at the RNLI college in Poole said to me that we can do anything the guys can do, we’ve just got to go about it in different ways sometimes. I can do exactly the same as the men and I don’t get treated any differently. It’s great to be the first female helm at Fowey but I think of myself as the same as the others. We’re just one crew really.’
Amelia progressed quickly from new recruit to helm since joining in 2017. She says: ‘They were short of crew when I joined so my crew plan was fast-tracked. In theory you should be shore crew for a year and then go on to being full crew so I was very lucky to get that opportunity. Having said that, you do need to take control of your training and you need to push yourself to train. It’s not like being at school, and as I was still at school when I joined, coming into this environment where you’ve got to take control of your learning was very different. You have to liaise with the assessors and ask them to assess you. I don’t feel that I have done it particularly fast, but I’m really happy with becoming a helm at 21.’
Amelia continues: ‘Joining the RNLI wasn’t a lifelong dream. It’s funny because my brother Oli has wanted to join ever since he was a young boy, he’s always been obsessed with lifeboats. With him constantly talking about it, me living on the water since I was tiny and seeing the crew all go out, something drew me to it. I know that if I got into trouble when I was out on the water I’d really appreciate the 24/7 rescue service that the RNLI provides. It’s good to know that I can help to provide that service.’
‘There’s lots of things I enjoy about being part of the RNLI. I love the camaraderie and being part of the whole RNLI family. The training is amazing. Some of the crew have just been on a course at the RNLI college in Poole and they loved it. I went up there a couple of weeks ago, on every course you do the trainers are fantastic and the facilities are amazing. You meet people there from all the different stations and everyone always gets on. Anyone you meet from the RNLI is always very positive.’
Amelia continues: ‘Passing out as a D class helm has to be my best moment in my RNLI story so far, the icing on the cake. My worst time was probably having to be signed off from the crew for a couple of months after an operation. It was tough watching the boat go out and not be able to join them.’
When she’s not volunteering for the RNLI Amelia is doing an apprenticeship in business management. She also works as a Harbour Patrol officer during the summer season in Fowey Harbour.
Being part of the lifeboat crew is a Luck family tradition. Dad Adam Luck, was chair of the Fowey lifeboat committee and is now a Deputy Launching Authority (DLA) at Fowey station and brother Oli is the latest member of the Luck family to volunteer as crew.
Adam Luck said: ‘Yesterday was a very proud day for our family. For Amelia to be the first female helm at Fowey and one of three in Cornwall is a great accolade and is terrific for the station. Since joining, Amelia has successfully completed her D class inshore lifeboat training, casualty care and all-weather lifeboat crew and navigator training. She is a great asset to the Fowey team and I and the whole station are very proud of what she has achieved.’
Amelia’s brother Oli Luck joined the RNLI aged 17 in October 2020. Oli said: ‘I’m proud of Amelia and really excited for her, it’s a big progression. I know her capabilities and know that she’s not going to be any different from any of the other helms. She’s had all the training and if there’s a shout she’ll know exactly what to do. I’ve wanted to volunteer as lifeboat crew ever since I can remember. Dad was on the lifeboat committee so I was always down at the station and out on lifeboat days, and it was always exciting to see the crew. When Amelia joined she introduced me to the crew and I got more involved, then Dad became a DLA as well so by the time I joined pretty much everyone knew me. Initially Amelia wasn’t that interested in joining the RNLI, then she actually joined before me. I also wanted to join the Harbour Patrol and she joined that before me as well, so it’s a bit of a running family joke about her stealing my ambitions. We get on really well and I enjoy being part of the crew with her.’
Amelia says: ‘Having my brother Oli on the crew is great. He’s very willing to learn and fits in really well. It’s nice having dad involved as well because he gets to see what we do. Conversations at home can be a bit RNLI heavy sometimes though and mum can feel a bit left out.’
The charity is looking to recruit more volunteers for a variety of sea-going and station roles and Amelia is keen to encourage others to follow in her footsteps. Asked what advice she would have for women who might be interested in becoming lifeboat crew, Amelia is clear: ‘The RNLI is a very inclusive organisation and provides a huge amount of training for new crew members. If the thing that’s stopping you is because you’re female, don’t let it. If you’re thinking of joining, come down to your local station, have a chat and meet the crew. Everyone’s really friendly and you won’t get treated any differently if you’re female or male.
Anyone interested in volunteering for the RNLI, the charity that saves lives at sea, can find further details at www.rnli.org/volunteer
Notes to editors
Fowey lifeboat station has been operating for nearly 160 years. To learn more about the lifeboat station go to:
A photo of Fowey’s lifeboat can be viewed at: https://rnli.org/find-my-nearest/lifeboat-stations/fowey-lifeboat-station
RNLI media contacts
For more information please telephone Cathy Baillie, RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07787 709986 or [email protected] or Emma Haines, Regional Press Officer [email protected] and 07786 668847 or contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.
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
Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries