Ruth Oliver Photo: Andrew Hastings

Whitstable RNLI have just gained a new helm for their Atlantic 85 Lifeboat after 26-year old Ruth Oliver was passed out this week and has become the stations first female helm.

Ruth who works as chief sailing and powerboat Instructor at Whitstable Yacht Club joined the crew 5-years ago “I have always had an interest in the sea and have grown up with sailing locally and having been a Whitstable girl all my life I decided to do something for the local community by joining the lifeboat.”

On joining the crew Ruth soon found herself “in at the deep end” as her first call was as part of the crew who rescued two anglers off Herne Bay whose boat had capsized in June 2018 and, but for the timely arrival of the lifeboat, would not have survived. The incident was recorded by the lifeboats cameras and featured some months later in the BBC’s ‘Saving Lives at Sea’ programme.

Since that incident Ruth has been part of the crew on around 100 calls for the lifeboat but that first one still remains her most significant to date.

Ruth says “After joining the crew and having served for 3-years I volunteered to progress to the helm role, the training for which was hampered by the Covid pandemic but the training was very comprehensive, as it is with all aspects of crewing a lifeboat but was primarily about managing the boat and the conduct of a call.”

Ruth Oliver who has passed out as helm at RNLI Whitstable.
Ruth Oliver who has passed out as helm at RNLI Whitstable Photo: Andrew Hastings

“My thanks go to my fellow crewmembers and station personnel who have supported me throughout my time on the station and I now look forward to serving the station and town as helm for I hope many years to come.”

Whitstable Lifeboat Operations Manager Mike Judge said “Ruth qualifying as helm is the culmination of a considerable amount of effort on her behalf all given in the cause of voluntary service and her new position as helm will enhance this station’s role in the RNLI’s mission of saving lives at sea by providing us will an additional member of the station capable of taking command of the lifeboat at sea.”

By Ed

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