A LIFEBOAT volunteer has made history by becoming one of the few women ever to qualify as an all-weather lifeboat coxswain.
Sloane Phillips, who has lived in Hastings all her life, remembers watching the lifeboat launch many times as she was growing up.
She said: “I have always loved the sea so when I became a beach lifeguard after I left school in 1995, I wondered if my new found skills could help on the lifeboat. I went along to the boathouse one day and after a chat with the coxswain I was asked to join.”
Sloane worked her way up from being part of the shore crew to becoming a sea-going member in both the Hastings lifeboats.
In 2000 she qualified as an inshore boat helmsman, the same year that she represented the RNLI in the Queen Mother’s 100th birthday celebrations in London, and in 2003 she qualified as a navigator on the all-weather lifeboat.
As her experience grew, Sloane set her sights on becoming an all-weather lifeboat coxswain. The depth and quantity of knowledge needed to attain such a position includes specialist courses in subjects such as yachtmaster theory, boat handling, and search and rescue command.
All this hard work paid off when, following a rigorous final assessment by an RNLI inspector, Sloane became a fully qualified Deputy 2nd Coxswain.
In 2010 she became a registered paramedic within the RNLI, and also became part of its International Flood Rescue Team, work which has taken her to Holland, where she took part in a major international exercise in 2009. Sloane was also involved in a rescue on in November 2006 when she was a crew member in the inshore lifeboat. It had launched to rescue a swimmer off St Leonards. The crew were later awarded a framed Letter of Thanks from the RNLI chairman.
Sloane’s day job is a full-time paramedic for South East Coast Ambulance Service.
Steve Warne, Hastings RNLI’s coxswain, said: “We’re really lucky at Hastings to have such a dedicated member within the crew. Sloane has worked really hard to achieve her present level of knowledge and expertise and thoroughly deserves her coxswain’s qualification.”