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There’s No Gender Barrier at Cowes with the RNLI!

Lifeboats News Release

It’s a picture that provides the clearest evidence – that when it comes to the RNLI at Cowes being female is categorically no bar to any role in the organisation.

Photograph showing the all-female Cowes RNLI boat crew and shore crew in front of the lifeboat before launching on exercise.

RNLI/Sophie Bluestone

The Cowes RNLI all-female boat crew and shore crew before launching on exercise.

Whether its boat crew, shore crew, Deputy Launch Authority (responsible for authorising the launch of the lifeboats), plant operator, running the local RNLI shop or being a member of the visits team – they are all responsibilities ably undertaken by women in the town.

And to further underline the RNLI’s cross-gender policy, after this all-female picture was taken at the station today (Wednesday) the lifeboat was launched on a Cowes Week exercise with an all-women crew. And at the controls was Libby Finch, who only recently qualified as the station’s first woman helm.

Mark Southwell, Station Operations Manager, said, 'As far back as 15 years ago the then-independent Cowes lifeboat already had a mixed crew, which went on transfer to the RNLI service. So, from the start we have been able to demonstrate that the lifeboat it not a men’s club, and its not a club at all - but a serious professional service – ready at a moment’s notice.

'Today 30 percent of the station itself is female. There are no bars or prejudices towards anyone here. Logically that’ll be a 50/50 split one day and rightly so, thus reflecting the population of Cowes. And all lifeboats should fully represent their towns'.

'I have to say that I admire anyone, man or woman, who happily to turns up and launches in such foul conditions as we have experienced today, and still has a broad smile'!


Caption to:

Photo 1: Cowes RNLI has women in a huge variety of roles at the station from boat crew, to shore crew, plant operator, the shop, visits team and Deputy Launch Authority.

Photo 2: The boat and shore crew before the exercise

Photo 3: The all-women crewed lifeboat cuts through the Solent's waves.

RNLI media contacts

  • George Chastney, Cowes RNLI Volunteer Press Officer 07530 254052/ [email protected]
  • Paul Dunt, RNLI Media Regional Officer (London/East/South East) 0207 6207426/ 07785 296252/ [email protected]
  • For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789

· RNLI online: For more information on the RNLI please visit or Cowes Lifeboat Station can also be found on Facebook and Twitter

· News releases and other media resources, including RSS feeds, downloadable photos and video, are available at the RNLI News Centre.

Photo showing 15 women volunteers at Cowes RNLI - women make up 30% of all volunteers.

RNLI/Sophie Bluestone

There are women in a huge variety of roles at the station where they make up 30% of the volunteers.
Photo of the Cowes RNLI lifeboat at sea with an all-female crew.

RNLI/Sophie Bluestone

An all-female crew at Cowes RNLI take to sea for an exercise.
Photo of the all-female boat crew and shore crew beside the lifeboat before launching (photo taken looking from above).

RNLI/Sophie Bluestone

The all-female boat and shore crew prepare to launch.

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.