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Ruth takes the helm at Whitstable RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

Whitstable RNLI have just gained a new helm for their Atlantic 85 Lifeboat after 26-year old Ruth Oliver was passed out this week and has become the stations first female helm.

Ruth Oliver who has passed out as helm at RNLI Whitstable.

Andrew Hastings.

Ruth Oliver who has passed out as helm at RNLI Whitstable.
Ruth who works as chief sailing and powerboat Instructor at Whitstable Yacht Club joined the crew 5-years ago “I have always had an interest in the sea and have grown up with sailing locally and having been a Whitstable girl all my life I decided to do something for the local community by joining the lifeboat”.

On joining the crew Ruth soon found herself “in at the deep end” as her first call was as part of the crew who rescued two anglers off Herne Bay whose boat had capsized in June 2018 and, but for the timely arrival of the lifeboat, would not have survived. The incident was recorded by the lifeboats cameras and featured some months later in the BBC’s ‘Saving Lives at Sea’ programme.

Since that incident Ruth has been part of the crew on around 100 calls for the lifeboat but that first one still remains her most significant to date.

Ruth says “After joining the crew and having served for 3-years I volunteered to progress to the helm role, the training for which was hampered by the Covid pandemic but the training was very comprehensive, as it is with all aspects of crewing a lifeboat but was primarily about managing the boat and the conduct of a call”

“My thanks go to my fellow crewmembers and station personnel who have supported me throughout my time on the station and I now look forward to serving the station and town as helm for I hope many years to come”.

Whitstable Lifeboat Operations Manager Mike Judge said “Ruth qualifying as helm is the culmination of a considerable amount of effort on her behalf all given in the cause of voluntary service and her new position as helm will enhance this station's role in the RNLI's mission of saving lives at sea by providing us will an additional member of the station capable of taking command of the lifeboat at sea”.

In addition,Natalie Adams, the RNLI Divisional Assessor Training said “It was very clear that Ruth had really put in the time and effort to make sure she was up to speed and confident in command of the Lifeboat. I know the station did a fantastic job in supporting her and helping her with her training and preparation. A huge congratulations to Ruth, I look forward to hearing all about her first shout in command”.

“There are more and more ladies now in command of Lifeboats, it tasks a vast range of skills and experience to build an effective and safe lifeboat crew. If you have ever thought of getting involved, then don't hesitate to get in touch with your local station”.

Notes to editors

Whitstable RNLI Lifeboat Station was established in 1963 by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and is one of 237 lifeboat stations around the shores of the UK and Ireland. The volunteer crews provide a maritime search and rescue service for the Kent coast. They cover the area between the Kingsferry Bridge on the Swale, in the west, around the south-eastern side of Sheppey and along the coast through Whitstable and Herne Bay to Reculver in the east and outwards into the Thames Estuary.

The station is equipped with an Atlantic 85 lifeboat named Lewisco, purchased through a bequest of a Miss Lewis of London who passed away in 2006.

She is what is known as a rigid inflatable inshore lifeboat, the boat’s rigid hull being topped by an inflatable sponson. She carries a crew of four people.

RNLI media contacts

  • Chris Davey, Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, Whitstable Lifeboat Station.
    07741 012004/ [email protected]

  • Paul Dunt RNLI Press Officer London/southeast/east Tel: 0207 6207416 Mob: (07785) 296252 [email protected]

  • For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789



Andrew Hastings.

Ruth Oliver who has passed out as helm at RNLI Whitstable gets congratulated with a ceremonial 'wash down' by the crew.
Ruth Oliver on her first call as crew of Whitstable Lifeboat.

RNLI Whitstable.

Ruth Oliver on her first call as crew of Whitstable 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.

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