For over 180 years images of strong, selfless males have populated the reports and literature of the lifeboat service. What has not been so well documented or recognised are the roles that, right from the very beginning, women have played in working to save lives at sea.
The stereotypical image is of women waiting in the lifeboat house for their men to return – brewing tea and giving encouragement and solace to each other. Look more deeply and it becomes clear that women have always been at the heart of the lifeboat operation, undertaking a wide range of tasks which draw upon their distinctive skills and talents. From Victorian times right through to the twenty-first century, women have always been “strong to save”.
The RNLI is alive with outstanding women working alongside equally exceptional men, ensuring that as many people as possible who find themselves in trouble, either on or by the sea, live rather than drown.
In Hidden Depths: Women of the RNLI, we begin to understand what magnificent feats of strength and teamwork these courageous and dedicated women have performed and still do.
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