RNLI volunteer celebrates Christmas as the first female helm for Kessock RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

For the past 5 years, Kessock RNLI volunteer Jane Hier has spent the festive period on call for the RNLI, willing to drop everything and respond to those in need. But this year comes with added responsibility as last month, Jane became the first female helm at Kessock RNLI Lifeboat Station.

Jane can be seen stood in front of the Atlantic 85 lifeboat

RNLI Kessock

Jane Hier is the first female Atlantic 85 Helm at RNLI Kessock

Jane, a dentist by profession, joined the crew in 2017 after watching an inspiring episode of Saving Lives at Sea. In her 5 years as a volunteer crew member, Jane has spent 250 hours at sea, responding to over 20 shouts as part of Kessock RNLI and is now one of four female Atlantic 85 helms in Scotland. 

‘I never thought that with my job that I would be considered to join as a volunteer crew member. I thought you had to be a fisherman, working in the harbour so you were around all the time. And then I watched an episode of Saving Lives at Sea where there was a Northern Irish dentist who also volunteered as a crew member. That’s when I thought to myself, maybe I could actually do this.’  

She joined the friendly team at Kessock RNLI and was later asked to take on the Helm plan.  

‘I’d never really considered the Helm training plan as I didn’t feel I was as good as the other helms, or that I had the right skillset. But when I was asked, the team explained that I had been chosen for my teamwork skills and personality as a lot of the core skills for helm can be taught. Although I’m originally from a small fishing village, I have no sea or sailing experience whatsoever!’ 

Jane was supported through her training, both at the station and at the RNLI college in Poole. 

‘It’s always good to learn something new, even if it’s difficult. The training at Poole was really good and then I was further supported by Anna, a RNLI trainer, to go through some final training units. She was really helpful, and we tended to look at things in a different way, which helped me to better understand our local waters and take a different perspective on things, such as exercises.’ 

This Christmas will be Jane’s first as helm at Kessock RNLI. While she doesn’t feel nervous, she is extremely grateful to the incredible team of volunteers at Kessock. 

‘I’m always ready to go but I’m never apprehensive or nervous. You’ve chosen to volunteer and give your time, and you know what a difference you make when you do get called out. My family and friends are all so supportive of what I do – even if I was at my in-laws and the pager went at Christmas dinner, I know they would just say ‘on you go, we’ll keep you a plate’, because they know what I’m doing and how much of a difference it makes.

‘Christmas is just another time of the year and it’s just another possibility of shouts. At Kessock, we’re so well trained, we’re so well equipped, and every single member of crew at the station is incredible. But it’s generous donations from the public that ensure we have the best equipment and training we need to help save lives at sea.’

Over the past five Christmases', RNLI lifeboats in Scotland have launched 100 times, coming to the aid of 51 people and have saved three lives. But these rescues would not be possible without donations from the RNLI’s generous supporters, helping to fund the essential kit, training and equipment needed by lifeboat crews all year round.  


The RNLI is launching its Christmas appeal, as the charity asks for help to continue its lifesaving work at sea. Jane explains: ‘The training we receive equips us with the skills and ability to save lives at sea. If you can, please donate to the RNLI this Christmas and be part of our lifesaving mission.’


To make a donation to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal visit: RNLI.org/Xmas 


Notes to editors

  • Kessock RNLI is one of Scotland’s youngest lifeboat stations, operating an inshore B class Atlantic 85 lifeboat.

  • Over the past five Christmases, RNLI lifeboats in Scotland have launched 100 times, coming to the aid of 51 people and have saved three lives.

  • Since 1979, Scottish lifeboat stations have launched 414 times in the festive period, saved 51 lives and aided 216 people.


RNLI media contacts  


Natasha Bennett, RNLI Regional Media Officer for Scotland, 07826 900639, [email protected]


Martin Macnamara, RNLI Regional Media Manager for Scotland, 07920 365929, [email protected]

RNLI Press Office, 01202 336789

Jane can be seen with fellow volunteer crew members

RNLI Kessock

L-R Yvette Kershaw, Lindsey Randall and Jane Hier

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

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