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Volunteer Leah passes out as inshore lifeboat helm in Whitby.

Lifeboats News Release

Leah Hunter joined the crew at 18 after witnessing the lifeboat crew rescue a capsized rowing boat.

Leah in her inshore lifeboat kit.

RNLI/Ceri Oakes

Leah Hunter inside Whitby RNLI station.

Whitby has had an inshore lifeboat since 1966 after they were introduced to the RNLI in 1963 and Leah is Whitby's first female helm. The role of the helm is to take command of the boat, and the crew aboard it and more often than not it is the helm that steers the boat during a rescue.

The D class inshore lifeboat is an inflatable boat and highly manoeuvrable, operating closer to shore than the all-weather lifeboats. She comes into her own for searches and rescues in the surf, shallow water and confined locations - often close to cliffs or among rocks.

To become a helm of an inshore lifeboat the volunteer undergoes an additional training plan with specific training exercises and a final assessment by an external RNLI assessor, this process usually takes around two years.

Coxswain Howard Fields said: 'It is great to see Leah pass out as helm on the inshore lifeboat, we are very grateful for the dedication of our volunteers who undergo rigorous training to enhance their skills on the lifeboat, meaning we are well equipped to rescue those in trouble at sea.

Leah, who has gained a place at university next year to train to be a paramedic said: 'I have really enjoyed learning more about the inshore lifeboat, there's only usually three crew on board so you get chance to really get stuck in and be involved in a hands on way with every shout.

She added: 'When I joined the crew at 8 years ago I was the only female crew member at Whitby but now there's two of us and we've just taken on a further two during a recent recruitment drive.'

For more information contact Lifeboat Press Officer Ceri Oakes on 07813359428 or at [email protected].

Leah Hunter in her inshore lifeboat gear.

RNLI/Ceri Oakes

Leah Hunter in her inshore lifeboat gear.
Leah Hunter with Whitby's D class lifeboat.

RNLI/Ceri Oakes

Leah Hunter with Whitby's D class lifeboat.

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.