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Norfolk woman becomes first female RNLI hovercraft commander

PUBLISHED: 09:34 05 May 2019 | UPDATED: 09:44 05 May 2019

The Hunstanton hovercraft on which Charlie Parfitt has become the first female RNLI hovercraft commander. Picture: Clifford Hicks

The Hunstanton hovercraft on which Charlie Parfitt has become the first female RNLI hovercraft commander. Picture: Clifford Hicks

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A lifeboat volunteer from Hunstanton has become the first female RNLI hovercraft commander.

Hunstanton lifeboat volunteer Charlie Parfitt has become the first female RNLI hovercraft commander. Picture: Hunstanton RNLIHunstanton lifeboat volunteer Charlie Parfitt has become the first female RNLI hovercraft commander. Picture: Hunstanton RNLI

Charlie Parfitt, who joined the RNLI four years ago after moving to Hunstanton, has passed her final test to take command of the rescue hovercraft.

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Her achievement marks another first for the RNLI at Hunstanton. The station became the first in the UK to trial tractors for launching lifeboats in 1922. It was also the first station to trial the hovercraft. And it was the first to pass a female pilot Leesa Espley, still a member of the crew.

After passing her hovercraft pilots test, Charlie, who has a keen interest in the sea, and also works the safety boat for Brancaster Sailing Club, is now progressing to becoming a helmsman on the station's Atlantic 85 lifeboat.

Hunstanton RNLI spokesman Geoff Needham said: “Well done Charlie. We can now send our hovercraft on service with an all girl crew, another first for RNLI crew.”

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