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RNLI new recruits on course to be first female crew members
TWO trailblazing new Minehead RNLI recruits are on course to become the station’s inaugural female crew members.
Philippa Hales and Rajinder Webber signed up along with four male volunteers – Philippa’s fiance Warren Bradley, Paul Hooks, Mike Norman and Sean Hardick – after the first ever recruitment day in June and have already begun basic training.
Rajinder Webber, a finance administrator at Minehead’s West Somerset Nursery, said: “I saw the recruitment article and it sounded really exciting so I thought I would go along – I am game for anything.
“I know it’s a man’s world but the guys have been great – really welcoming. I just want to continue being part of such a great team. I have already made some brilliant friends.
“I feel a bit guilty for the attention Philippa and I have received for potentially being the first female crew members when some of the guys have been doing this for so long – some are second generation – and they deserve more recognition.
“I have been out on the boats a few times during Sunday training sessions and after taking the helm last week I haven’t been able to wipe the smile off my face. I am really keen to learn. Giving up a bit of my time for this really exciting opportunity is an easy decision.”
Dr Bryan Stoner, Minehead RNLI’s management committee chairman, said: “We felt we had to organise a targeted recruitment campaign because the situation really was looking pretty serious.
“Our most experienced helmsman, Paul Arnold, has retired this summer and with other losses because of people moving away to work we were down to a basic pool of 12 crew members, which, when we need seven if we have to put both our boats out, is not a comfortable position to be in.
“We really couldn’t have found a better group to sign up. They are tremendously enthusiastic, very dedicated and most importantly, they fit in brilliantly with the existing crew.”