The RNLI has announced the appointment of its first full-time female mechanic in Scotland on International Women’s Day.

Phoebe Douglas, 23, will be responsible for maintaining two lifeboats and other vehicles at Dunbar Lifeboat Station in East Lothian, as well as serving on the crew, once she is fully trained.

The mechanical engineering graduate, originally from North Yorkshire, has previously fundraised for the RNLI and is an experienced sailor as well as a qualified dingy instructor and skipper.

She will be looking after the station’s in-shore lifeboat, tractor and Land Rover at Dunbar and the all-weather lifeboat, boarding boat and launching davit at nearby Torness Power Station.

Phoebe 2
Phoebe Douglas getting to work on the engine of the boarding boat (Dunbar RNLI/Alistair Punton/PA)

Dunbar Lifeboat Station, on the south side of the mouth of the Firth of Forth, is one of the oldest in Scotland and pre-dates the establishment of the RNLI 200 years ago.

Ms Douglas said: “Engineering has always been a massively male-dominated industry so I was already aware of what I might be getting myself into. I figured it would be quite unusual but it doesn’t bother me.

“Doing engineering and the sports I do are already very male dominated, so I am well used to it.

“I have a lot of training to do but I spent a lot of time at lifeboat stations with the fundraising side of things, so I know how they work.

“It’s been great so far. Dunbar is a very strong community and although I had only visited the town a couple of times while fundraising, I liked what I saw and only heard good things about it.

Chloe Urquhart is based at RNLI Aberdeen (Jamee Kirkpatrick/RNLI/PA)

“I’ve always wanted to work on boats and wanted a job where I could be outside and hands-on practical. It’s an ideal job for me in many ways. I also wanted to join the crew but thought that might come later in life.”

There are other female mechanics working for the RNLI but they are on a voluntary basis.

On International Women’s Day on Friday, the RNLI highlighted a number of women working for it in key roles, including Chloe Urquhart, 21, who became the youngest D-class helm to pass out on Aberdeen lifeboat station’s inshore lifeboat last year.

She joined aged 17 at Portree lifeboat station on Skye, before she moved to Aberdeen to study.

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Mandie Cran from RNLI Kessock (RNLI/PA Wire).

Ms Urquhart said: “I love the variety – no shout or exercise is ever the same – and we work closely with other emergency services too.”

Jane Hier became the RNLI’s first female helm at Kessock, north of Inverness, in 2022 after volunteering since 2017, and sailing instructor Mandie Cran became the station’s first female launch authority two years ago.

Ms Cran said: “When I heard they were looking for launch authorities, I thought finally I could give something back for all the reassurance they have given me over the years. Being the first female launch authority feels completely normal.”

GP practice nurse Roz Ware was on the crew in Longhope, Hoy, Orkney, for 12 years before becoming a deputy launch authority.

She said: “It takes a lot of courage to get on a lifeboat but when lives are at risk, you find it.”