“Today, 30 percent of the station itself is female. Logically that’ll be a 50/50 split one day and rightly so", says the man at the helm of Cowes RNLI.

Mark Southwell is on a mission. A mission for his crew to be reflective of Cowes and its population.

"All lifeboats should fully represent their towns", he said, on the day the station launched its first all women crew.

"We have been able to demonstrate that the lifeboat is not a men’s club, and it's not a club at all - but a serious professional service – ready at a moment’s notice."

Isle of Wight County Press:

At the controls of yesterday's (Wednesday's) Cowes Week exercise was Libby Finch.

She recently joined the station's five male crew members who are qualified to take charge of the Atlantic 85 lifeboat ‘Sheena Louise’.

At the time, she said: "Perhaps there will come a time when all four crew members responding to a ‘shout’ will be women."

Libby took the helm as an all-women crew went out on the Solent yesterday.

Mark, who joined when the station in 2008 and is now station manager, said: "As far back as 15 years ago the then-independent Cowes lifeboat already had a mixed crew, which went on transfer to the RNLI service.

"There are no bars or prejudices towards anyone here.

“I have to say that I admire anyone, man or woman, who happily turns up and launches in such foul conditions as we have experienced today, and still has a broad smile!”

There are 50 people, all from Cowes, Gurnard and Northwood, who operate from the Cowes RNLI station. The roles are voluntary.

Mark wants to quash the myth that the RNLI is a "men's club".

He is hoping to inspire more women to join the friendly crew already based at the station, and help save lives at sea.