Two West Norfolk lifeboat volunteers are being featured in a podcast counting down to the bicentenary of the RNLI.
A new episode is being released by the RNLI each day leading up to its 200th birthday on March 4 next year.
The latest edition features Leesa Espley and Kate Craven, who both volunteer in Hunstanton.
Leesa tells how she needed laser eye surgery to correct her short sight before she could join the crew just over 20 years ago.
‘It was the best thing I ever did,’ she tells the podcast. ‘I’ll never forget my first time on the boat, it was amazing.’
Shortly after she joined the crew at Hunstanton, the station became the first to operate a hovercraft and is one of just four around the country which operate the nimble craft.
Leesa went on to learn to fly the Hunstanton Flyer and became the RNLI’s first female hovercraft pilot.
Of her life saving career, she adds: ‘It’s really difficult to pick out one particular shout.
‘All the shouts are unique and different in their own way, from kite surfers to people being cut off on sandbanks, to injured fishermen.
‘It’s really rewarding, that’s why you do it: To give something back and know you’ve made a bit of a difference.’
Kate Craven is Lifeboat Visits Officer and runs Hunstanton RNLI’s education programme. She is also the charity’s Water Safety Officer for North Norfolk.
She also runs Storm Force – a kids’ club at the station over the summer holidays to deliver vital water safety messages – and shows parties of pupils from visiting schools around the station.
‘This year, we’ve seen 1,600 children, coming through from schools around our county and as far away as Northampton’ she says in the September 17 episode.
‘They leave knowing an awful lot more about water safety than they did when they arrived.’
Kate and volunteers at the station demonstrate its life saving equipment during visits.
She adds: ‘They love the hovercraft, they love the tractor, they love the fact the RNLI saves so many people and often call our crews superheroes.’
Available across all podcast platforms and the RNLI’s website, listeners can hear from survivors, supporters, volunteers, lifeguards, celebrity ambassadors, historians and many more from across the UK and Ireland – and beyond.
The 200 Voices series also includes celebrity ambassadors such as Sixth Commandment actor Timothy Spall, Gavin and Stacey actress Ruth Jones, Irish musician Phil Coulter, gold medal Olympian Sir Ben Ainslie and BAFTA-winning actress Joanna Scanlan.
RNLI Strategic Content Manager Rory Stamp said: ‘200 Voices is an incredible collection of stories that are emotive, powerful, inspiring and heart-warming.
‘The series gives us a chance to hear from a whole variety of amazing people who have played a part in or been touched by our lifesaving charity.
‘200 Voices is the first in a programme of activity planned to mark the RNLI’s bicentenary as we celebrate the world-class lifesaving service we provide today, remember our remarkable history and aim to inspire the future generations of lifesavers and supporters as we move through into the next 200 years.’
Audio or episodes and images – including those featuring Leesa Espley and Kate Craven – can be downloaded here.