Volunteer ‘makes history’ by becoming Shoreham RNLI’s first female inshore lifeboat helm

A crew member at the Shoreham RNLI has become the station’s first ever female inshore lifeboat helm.

Hazel Condell from Shoreham. Photo: Shoreham RNLI Lifeboat Station
Hazel Condell from Shoreham. Photo: Shoreham RNLI Lifeboat Station

Hazel Condell said it was ‘a nice achievement’ to be the first ever woman to qualify for the role at the Shoreham station.

The 36-year-old has been volunteering with the RNLI for just under four years.

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She said she had always been familiar with the lifeboat station as her father was a member of the crew when she was growing up.

But she decided to get involved herself when she began working close by as a finance executive at Shoreham Port.

Hazel quickly went from a trainee to a crew member, before undergoing 18 months of training to qualify as a Helm.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time in the crew and it’s a natural progression I suppose,” she said.

The helm is responsible for the inshore lifeboat during launching, at sea and through recovery, as well as the safety of the crew on board.

As of November 2019, there were 50 female helms in the RNLI covering the UK and Ireland, but just a handful in the South East.

“I think it’s becoming more common,” Hazel said. “We are lucky we have three females on our crew.

“Everyone is equal, everyone is treated the same.”

Hazel said the best thing about being part of the life-saving team was the ‘community spirit’ within the crew.

“It’s like a family unit, everyone supports eachother so well,” she said.

“It’s just a really good, fun environment.

“It’s nice to know you’re helping, but at the same time, you get to enjoy it.”

Hazel said she would definitely encourage other women to get involved with the lifeboat station.

“I think it’s nice to be able to give something back,” she said. “You get to develop your skillset and push your boundaries.”

In a post on Facebook, the RNLI team congratulated her for ‘making history’ at the Shoreham station.