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Islay Coastguard team embraced International Women’s Day by introducing their first female rescue officer.
Kate Hannett was born and raised on the Island and when a call for new members for the Port Charlotte team went out last year, her interest was well and truly sparked.
‘A good friend in mountain rescue and current team members gave me a bit of encouragement and here I am,’ she said.
‘I am so pleased I did it. It is still early days but I have been learning great new skills that I find they crossover into other ares of my life.’
Since completing her training in December, Kate has been on three shouts – a search and rescue, a potential medical transfer and a pyrotechnic report.
‘Being in the team is something that I’m very proud of, but for me it is neither here nor there that I am female,’ she told us.
‘However, I have five young nieces on the island so perhaps I can be part of their generation, and others, who see it as the norm for women to be in the coastguard.’
A former Port Charlotte Primary and Islay High School pupil Kate left the island to study when she was at 17, returning at the age of 23 with the intention of only staying for a month.
‘That was eight years ago now,’ she exclaimed.
Kate, who works in both media communications and as a forager for a gin company, is now urging anyone of any gender who might be considering volunteering as a coastguard rescue officer to do it.
‘It can be challenging but it is also very rewarding. Coastguard teams thrive on having a good mix of people and skills from different backgrounds and occupations,’ she said.
‘We have great women working in the coastguard teams on our neighbouring islands, in our local RNLI, ambulance crew, fire service and police.
‘Regardless of gender, it’s a combined effort across the island’s emergency services and I’m proud to work alongside great women and men, many of whom I grew up with, for the safety and well-being of our island community.
‘It’s great to be giving back to that community in such a valued way,’ she added.