Hayling RNLI Lifeboat Station gets its first female helm - after 103 years of lifesaving

SHE joined her local lifeboat station’s ranks with no marine experience to speak of.

Wednesday, 20th November 2019, 9:34 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th November 2019, 2:08 pm
Sharon Swan, pictured, has become the first female helm at the Hayling RNLI station in its 103 years of lifesaving. Picture: RNLI

But after seven years of intense training Sharon Swan has become the Hayling RNLI’s first female helm – in its 103 years of lifesaving.

Ms Swan, who has lived on the island all her life, earned the title after being put through her paces in a recent assessment.

Area lifesaving manager, Nathan Jauns, said she ‘showed great leadership and command’ as her skills were tested in emergency scenarios.

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Ms Swan said: ‘I’m relieved and now the real learning begins, but I feel proud.

‘It’s been worth putting in the effort and I’ve had lots of encouragement both from the crew and from my family.’

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Dubbed an ‘excellent helm’ for the Hayling RNLI, which is based in Bracklesham Road, Ms Swan will head the station’s D-class lifeboat, Jacob.

As well as the station's Atlantic 85 lifeboat, Derrick Battle, the vessel launches to between 75 and 85 incidents every year.

Responding to those calls now, Ms Swan will champion the operations she dashed to the lifeboat station to watch in action as a child.

It was senior helm Andy Ferguson who encouraged Sharon to join the crew at the Hayling RNLI in 2012.

He said: ‘Sharon is a person who always goes the extra mile and is a totally reliable skilled crew member.

‘She is a vital member of the team whose commitment is outstanding and she will be an excellent helm.’

Lifeboat operations manager, Jonathan Bradbury, added: ‘Many congratulations to Sharon on her historic achievement in becoming the first lady helm at Hayling – very well done indeed.’

The title of helm bolsters Ms Swan’s sterling record at the station, which granted her status as the first female crew member of the year, in 2018.

In her time at the lifeboat station she has been involved in a catalogue of rescues including incidents which have seen young children saved.

Holding previous roles at ferry companies, Ms Swan will be available to the station during the working week.