Women coastguards turning the tide on outdated stereotypes on Holy Island

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A tide of female volunteers joining the HM Coastguard team at Holy Island is helping to overturn outdated stereotypes.

After an appeal for new recruits, five of the seven-strong team are now women, including the leader, Station Officer Molly Luke and her deputy, Kirsty Johnson.

Molly, 27, said: “I think it’s quite a big deal, especially for women – we get comments from women as we’re out on a job about how good it is.

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“We have had several shouts when it’s an all-female team and members of the public were commenting, but in a good way. In fact, the majority of our shouts are all-female now.

Station officer Molly Luke, Andrew Mundy, deputy station officer Kirsty Johnson and Rebecca Naylor. Picture: Holy Island CoastguardStation officer Molly Luke, Andrew Mundy, deputy station officer Kirsty Johnson and Rebecca Naylor. Picture: Holy Island Coastguard
Station officer Molly Luke, Andrew Mundy, deputy station officer Kirsty Johnson and Rebecca Naylor. Picture: Holy Island Coastguard

“We have had nothing but positives from other coastguards, members of the public and casualties.”

The Holy Island team is kept busy with people regularly being caught out by the tide on both the road causeway between the island and the mainland and the route by foot across the sands.

Molly, who became part of the team four years ago, said: "Me and Kirsty joined at the same time. We were the first women for a long while.”

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But as other volunteers dropped out during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, a fresh recruitment drive was launched.

Holy Island's tidal causeway.Holy Island's tidal causeway.
Holy Island's tidal causeway.

Molly added: “We were lucky in that we all knew each other. We realised it was a male-dominated area when we started doing training with other teams.

“They were lovely but people were shocked to see women turn up and jump out of the truck, so we wanted to make our mark!

“If you’re a woman thinking of joining, I would say do not be afraid, do not be intimidated. Even if it’s a male team they are always welcoming. Go and see them, have a visit and ask questions.”

Molly spoke about her team for Women in Maritime Day.

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HM Coastguard staff member Martin Lowe, the Coastal Operations Area Commander, added: “Lindisfarne is a very popular visitor spot with difficult conditions, so it’s important to have a strong team to oversee the area.

“It’s great news that our appeal for new volunteers got such a good response, and the number of female recruits is particularly encouraging.”

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