RNLI Lifeboat Woman Awarded Gallantry Medal

RNLI Bronze Medal for Gallantry winner Aileen Jones, also seen at the helm of the Porthcawl lifeboat.
RNLI Bronze Medal for Gallantry winner Aileen Jones, also seen at the helm of the Porthcawl lifeboat.

The RNLI has announced that Porthcawl helmsman Aileen Jones is to be awarded the Institution's Bronze Medal for Gallantry for her part in the rescue of two fishermen on August 24, 2004. Aileen is the first lifeboat woman in 116 years to be given such an accolade, the last medal awarded to a woman crew member was in 1888.

Jones, the helmsman of the RNLI Porthcawl lifeboat, braved gale force winds, rough seas and a three metre swell to rescue a fishing vessel, Gower Pride , which suffered engine failure.

The skipper and an injured fisherman were on board.

The entire crew of the Porthcawl lifeboat faced atrocious sea conditions and twice managed to connect a towline - the second time by putting Crewman Emms on board the fishing vessel after the first towline broke. At that moment the Gower Pride was hit by a large breaking wave on the starboard side and was thrown against the lifeboat.

Helmsman Jones quickly manoeuvred the vessels apart, and continued - with great skill - to use the inshore lifeboat to keep the rolling fishing vessel away from danger. They began a slow tow against high seas, which at times lifted the bow of the lifeboat precariously out of the water.

By this time The Mumbles all-weather lifeboat had been called to assist and the crews were able to transfer the tow from the smaller Porthcawl lifeboat. The two lifeboats were then finally able to complete the perilous journey home and get the skipper and his injured crewman to safety.

RNLI operations director Michael Vlasto said, 'Aileen used all her skills in leadership and boat handling to contend with very dangerous sea conditions, and coupled with her own personal attributes of selflessness and bravery, Helmsman Jones and her crew were able to save two lives - we owe her and all involved a debt of gratitude.'

Three other Porthcawl crew members will receive awards for their part in the dramatic rescue. Crew Member Simon Emms, who boarded the stricken vessel, is to be accorded the Thanks of the Institution on Vellum. Crew Members Steven Knipe and Mark Burtonwood will be presented with Medal Service Badges and certificates. Coxswain Martin Double of The Mumbles lifeboat, which also assisted in the rescue, will receive a letter of appreciation signed by the RNLI Chief Executive, Andrew Freemantle.

MJ Information No: 20111

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