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First woman to join Tiree Coastguard steps up to become agency’s youngest ever female lead

The youngest ever female station officer has taken charge of a Scottish island team on the Isle of Tiree. Supplied by HM Coastguard
The youngest ever female station officer has taken charge of a Scottish island team on the Isle of Tiree. Supplied by HM Coastguard

A 28-year-old who became the first woman in an island’s coastguard team has now become the UK’s youngest ever female station officer.

Louise Reid joined Tiree Coastguard, and was followed by her sister Megan in 2019.

She admitted although it has not been easy, she has always felt well supported and is now looking forward to her new challenge – insisting she does not feel like a “trailblazer”.

She said: “It’s strange to be the first really; I was the first female coastguard in Tiree and it hasn’t always been easy, even if I have felt really supported.

“I don’t really see myself as a trailblazer or anything like that, I just signed up because I wanted to.”

Picture shows coast guarding sisters Louise and Megan from Tiree. Supplied by HM Coastguard

Encouraging others to sign up

When the station officer role came up, her team pushed her forward and gave her the confidence to apply.

Now in her new position, she said it had been a “real learning curve” but one she was really enjoying.

Her team is now a majority female team and Ms Reid hopes she can help other women sign up.

She said: “It is something I am very proud of, being the first woman in the local team.

“I think it’s so important to encourage others, I have always loved the coastguard and secretly wanted to join, but I had to build up the courage, knowing I would be the first woman.

“And once I signed up, the floodgates opened as Megan wasn’t that far behind in 2019 and Hayley joined last year as well.

“I think having women in the team means we’re more approachable as a service to women – both for people looking to sign up but also for the people we rescue – and I am very proud to be involved with helping to change what a traditional team looks like.”

‘Breaking new ground’

Senior coastal operations officer Kathrine Duffin described it as “a really special time on Tiree“.

She said: “I’m so pleased with how the team are coming together – yes, they are all quite new but they are determined, hardworking and enthusiastic.

“We’re all breaking new ground, I’m very proud to be a female senior officer with a female-led team under my remit, it shows how far the Coastguard has come from a few decades ago when you would find it hard to find a female coastguard.

“It is a modern service that represents a modern Scotland, and modern UK.”

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