Heacham resident, Leesa Espley
(36) has been a member of the Hunstanton volunteer
lifeboat crew since 2003 and became the first RNLI woman to gain a hovercraft pilot's licence. RNLI
examiners visited Hunstanton from the RNLI Training College in Poole, Dorset
and tested Mrs Espley's hovercraft handling skills. In order to
join Hunstanton RNLI, Mrs Espley underwent laser eye correction so her
achievement as the only woman in all our national RNLI stations who is
able to "fly" the hovercraft in rescue emergencies is particularly
This remarkable lady manages to fit in being a supply teacher at Heacham
Junior School as well as a volunteer firefighter for the village in between her RNLI
duties. Mrs Espley is hopeful that her
success may encourage other women to join the RNLI.
Hunstanton station's Brian Penty also qualified as a hovercraft pilot.
In addition, crew members Jason Palmer and Alan Torrice recently
attended a one-week training course in Poole, concentrating on fast
inshore lifeboat operations.
RNLI members trained hard to achieve the required standard and passed
the practical "flying test" to satisfy the Lifeboat Inspector that they
had the necessary skills.
Crew training continues to play a large
part of the day to day activities at Hunstanton RNLI and is a key focus
of RNLI activities across the board. This is largely due to the fact
that the majority of new recruits have little or no maritime
experience. Funds for these training activities are raised under the
"Train One Save Many" slogan, after all without training a single life
could not be saved. To donate to RNLI training you can call 0800 543210
Hunstanton is one of only four stations in the country to
currently run a hovercraft, which can operate on mud, sand and shallow
(HOL note: Aren't we lucky to have such a dedicated team here in our