Charlotte makes history as Happisburgh lifeboat station’s first female helmsman

A north Norfolk lifeboat station is making history in its 100th year with the appointment of its first female helmsman.

Charlotte Siely has taken the leading role on Happisburgh's D class inshore boat.

Lifesaving service runs in the family for the 20-year-old student, whose father Cubitt was also a helmsman, while her brother Cubitt junior is also on the crew.

Charlotte joined the crew in May 2010 just after her 17th birthday, and was hooked after her first trip on the boat. In February 2011 she went to Poole to the RNLI college to do her crew course.

She remembers one of her first rescues, helping a diver with the bends, who was treated by the crew who picked him up before the casualty was transferred to an RAF helicopter.

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Charlotte said: 'I was so impressed by the way everyone worked together to save a life'.

After training she was passed to take the helm after going to sea with the RNLI's Divisional Inspector.

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Her ambition is to helm the station's larger Atlantic lifeboat.

Station spokesman Philip Smith said Charlotte had always been seen as part of the crew not as a female.

Charlotte, who is studying biological sciences at the University of East Anglia, hopes her progress will encourage others to join crews around the coast.

In June 2011 Charlotte and Jake Munday, who is also a D Class helmsman, completed a skydive to raise money for the RNLI to help pay back the cost of their training.

Opportunities for volunteer crew and shore crew are available for males or females over the age of 17 years who need to be fit and not colour blind. Visit the Happisburgh station at Cart Gap on Tuesday evening or Sunday morning to find out more.

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