Women to the rescue in Aldeburgh
PUBLISHED: 15:46 07 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:18 20 February 2013
We talk to the female members of the Aldeburgh Lifeboat crew
What made you take interest in the lifeboats?
VC: Really I just wanted to volunteer for something. I was on the beach one day and they had a call out and they went to sea in quite a fog. I just thought Id pop down and have a look. It took a bit of time and courage to do. The set-up here is that you work on the beach for part of the time to show your commitment as it takes a lot of time to train fully and they need to see your commitment. You have to have the beach crew to enable you to go to sea.
AF: I put myself forward at the age of 29 because I wanted to do something to help.
I live in the town and my girls dad was in it, so I knew the score and went in with my eyes open, but being the first woman to join the lifeboat crew was a bit tough, I had to be as good as the lads and they just accepted me like anyone else. They didnt make any allowances and I didnt want them to.
I was part of the team you all have something to give and you know the commitment when you get into it.
CW: Id been travelling...working on farms, getting my hands dirty! I got back to Aldeburgh and missed doing something grubby and constructive so I joined up. Ive never looked back.
What role do you play in the crew and whats best about it?
VC: Im on the lifeboat. There are two, inshore and all-weather, and I volunteer for all weather. Part of the training is that you start by launching the boats and being part of the beach crew and then you do various stages of crew. There are lots of aspects to learn, from tying a knot to how the boat works and how to launch, and if you wish to carry on you can do more detailed training in mechanics and navigation I do both.
Theres a very good social aspect to it.
AF: Initially I joined the beach crew and once I passed my medical I had a probationary period of a year going on exercises with them, and then they took me on shout outs. Im now on both boats and have been a crew member for just over 13 years, and Im also a navigator on the all-weather boat. I think the best part is being part of the wider family and being part of the team and knowing everyone so well.
Its at the heart of the community and because weve worked together for so many years you just fall into the role.
CW: I go on the ILB and the ALB. There are so many parts of the role that are great. You just feel like youre achieving something and the adrenaline rush when the pager kicks in is great. Its just the whole package really, I love all of it.
What is the most challenging part of being on the crew?
VC: Most of my life Ive been learning new things. The challenging thing is the whole learning curve. Youve got to learn so much and because youre learning everything from scratch its a big time demand. Youve really got to knuckle down.
AF: It isnt a game, you know youre part of the emergency services so you may have to be in the town at certain times. It can be challenging from a family point of view.
CW: Everythings a new challenge.
What has been the most dramatic experience youve had out at sea?
AF: Theres been a mixture of things. Ive been out in quite rough seas looking for people. You dont realise the time when youre out at sea. Thereve been incidents where people have had enough of being at sea, or where people have injured themselves. The quickest shout out was six minutes. Someone had got a rope around their propeller and we helped them free it.
Are you originally from Suffolk and what do you think is best about the county?
VC: I was born in Kent and moved up here about eight or nine years ago. I love the people, their attitudes and the location, as its close to the sea, yet the countryside is so close too. And its just fabulous because youve got access to Snape Maltings and the independent cinemas theres a lot going on here.
AF: Ive always lived in Suffolk and grew up seven or eight miles from Aldeburgh. Ive been here 25 years. I think the best thing is being part of the Aldeburgh community. Its quite tight knit and as it has people with sea and farming backgrounds its got everything for families.
CW: Yes. I think the best thing about Suffolk is the people. I moved out of Suffolk when I was younger and you just forget how friendly the people are, especially in Aldeburgh. Everyone is there to help you out and everyone is so friendly. It didnt take long to settle in here.
Do you have any favourite pubs or restaurants?
VC: The Lifeboat pub.
AF: We like to go to The Railway because they have nice activities throughout the week like karaoke nights. After exercises we go to The Mill Inn and they often put on food if its cold to warm us up.
CW: The pubs in town like The Mill Inn and The White Hart.
What are your favourite film and book and why?
VC: Galaxy Quest with Alan Rickman would be the film its a spoof on Star Trek. And the book would be a gardening book as I do lots of gardening I have an allotment. In fact, all the girls on the crew have an allotment.
AF: My favourite film is Titanic, or The Perfect Storm. As for books, I only usually read school books these days.
It used to be a mans world but these days the ladies are making waves in the lifeboat service. This month we talk to the women who form a vital part of the Aldeburgh Lifeboat crew
There are three women on the Aldeburgh Lifeboat crew. Victoria Cozens, an Aldeburgh resident works as a paramedic in London as well as being a member of the crew. Alison Fox, aged 43, was the first ever female member of the Aldeburgh Lifeboat crew. She lives in the town with her coastguard fiance Andy and has two grown-up children as well as a one-year-old grandson who calls her nanny seaside. Outside of the crew Alison is a teacher by day. Post office clerk Claire Wooderson is the final lady on the crew. The 29-year-old lives in Aldeburgh with her partner Rob, who is also a crew member.
How long have you been involved with the lifeboats at Aldeburgh?
VC: About five years.
AF: Thirteen years.
CW: Two and a half years.