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Teddington RNLI celebrates International Women’s Day

Lifeboats News Release

Teddington RNLI is already ahead of the curve when it comes to women volunteering.

RNLI/Gianna Saccomani

Teddington RNLI celebrates International Women’s Day.

Teddington RNLI is already ahead of the curve when it comes to women volunteering. Nationally women make up around 12% of the RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crew, a figure which is steadily growing. In Teddington six women now make up 18% of the lifeboat crew, from Sam company secretary to Steph paramedic, Jan IT architect to Gianna property renovator.

A recently qualified crew member Claire Price, management consultant said: ‘I started volunteering at Teddington Lifeboat station a year ago and immediately fell in love with it! I love being part of the crew - it’s a fantastic, diverse bunch of people.

While female crew are still in the minority, that is changing rapidly (in my intake 2 out of 6 are female). It’s great when we are out and about doing fundraising, water safety and education for people to see women taking on all roles - I think it challenges some of their perceptions of the RNLI and hopefully inspires them to get involved in the future.’

Samantha Armatage, who qualified as helm last year and also helmed the first all-female shout on the River Thames, said that when she first volunteered, dry suits were shaped for men and not women. Now, kit has been adapted to suit.

‘I am proud to be one of an increasing number of female helms within the RNLI and would encourage anyone to join, regardless of their background and experience. Volunteering is open to all.’

As well as those who respond to a pager, we also celebrate the women who are involved in the vital roles of fundraising and water safety.

Amy Francis, fundraising Chair is proud of her fundraising role for Teddington RNLI, and the close relationship with the crew means she gets to see first-hand why the fundraising is so important. Amy added: ‘My team and the crew at Teddington include plenty of strong, dedicated women as well as men and that's what makes it so fantastic.

Locally we really embrace the one crew ethos regardless of your role, gender, race or anything else. To be crew for Teddington you need to live or work within a three-minute radius which unfortunately I don't, but it's now my goal to get within that and add another female crew to the rota!’

Perhaps the most important woman on station however will be Alderman Penny Shelton ,the newly built D Class inshore lifeboat funded by her sister Hilary Saw, a local benefactor and lifelong supporter of the RNLI.

‘Ever since my first direct involvement with Teddington RNLI, one of the things that has most impressed me has been the contribution made by its skilled female crew and helms, and by the hard-working women in fundraising and other roles who support them. It was also an aspect of Teddington RNLI’s work which greatly appealed to my sister Penny who believed that societies must be judged by the way they treat women.'

Sue Kingswood, RNLI Inclusion and Diversity Manager said: ‘Creating an inclusive culture which supports diversity is key to our long-term sustainability. So, we’re working hard to make sure that a wide range of people see the RNLI as a charity where they’re welcome as volunteers, supporters or staff.

As we approach our 200th anniversary, women are now more evident in operational search and rescue (SAR ) roles throughout the RNLI than they have ever been before. They are also better represented across operational management and in SAR training roles, which is great to see.

However, we still have a long way to go to achieve the representation we would like, not only where women are concerned, but across a much broader spectrum of diversity too.’

As Miranda Jaggers, part of the Water Safety team concluded: 'The RNLI is a large family - everyone is friendly and supportive and everyone is welcome.’

Today we are proud to celebrate the achievements of all women.

Gianna Saccomani
RNLI Lifeboat Press Officer and Crew

Teddington RNLI Lifeboat Station
M +44 (0) 7798 905515
For enquiries out of normal business hours call: (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.

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