First female helm for Fowey RNLI in 160 years

A 21-year-old woman has become the first female helm for the Fowey RNLI lifeboat crew in the station’s 160-year history. Amelia Luck passed out as helm on the station’s D class inshore lifeboat, Olive Three.

Luck joined Fowey RNLI as a volunteer lifeboat crew member in 2017, aged 17. In addition to being the first female helm in Fowey, she becomes one of only three female helms in Cornwall. There are just five female helms in the South West and 53 nationwide.

“It’s great to be the first female helm at Fowey but I think of myself as the same as the others. We’re just one crew really,” Luck says.

Since 2017, Fowey’s volunteer lifeboat crew have saved 16 lives and aided 335 people in trouble at sea, during a total of 176 launches of their all-weather lifeboat and inshore D class lifeboat, says Fowey lifeboat operations manager, Chris Ogg. “Amelia has personally attended 134 training and live lifeboat launches, of which 36 were actual rescue incidents, clocking up a total of over 355 volunteer hours at sea during this time.”

New data released by the RNLI this month reveals that summer 2021 saw the highest number of lives saved during watersport incidents in almost 20 years. This summer 55 lives were saved by volunteer crews, the largest number since 2002, when 72 were saved.

Since joining the station, Luck progressed quickly from new recruit to helm. When asked how she feels to be the first female helm in Fowey lifeboat history, Luck says: “I don’t really think of it like that, I see myself as just another helm. I don’t think there’s any difference, no one makes me feel any different here and it’s all very inclusive. One of the female trainers that I had at the RNLI college in Poole said to me that we can do anything the guys can do, we’ve just got to go about it in different ways sometimes. I can do exactly the same as the men and I don’t get treated any differently.”

Luck continues: “There’s lots of things I enjoy about being part of the RNLI. I love the camaraderie and being part of the whole RNLI family … Anyone you meet from the RNLI is always very positive.

“Passing out as a D class helm has to be my best moment in my RNLI story so far, the icing on the cake. My worst time was probably having to be signed off from the crew for a couple of months after an operation. It was tough watching the boat go out and not be able to join them.”

When she’s not volunteering for the RNLI, Luck is doing an apprenticeship in business management. She works as a harbour patrol officer during the summer season in Fowey Harbour.

Being part of the lifeboat crew is a Luck family tradition. Dad Adam Luck was chair of the Fowey lifeboat committee and is now a deputy launching authority at Fowey station, and younger brother Oli, 17, is the latest member of the Luck family to volunteer as crew.

All images courtesy of RNLI/Austen Bannister

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