Daring pensioner honoured for life-saving work

Presentation at Sunderland Volunteer Life Brigade HQ

Presentation at Sunderland Volunteer Life Brigade HQ

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DARING pensioner Rose Roberts has been awarded for her life-saving work.

The mum-of-two became the first woman in the 137-year history of Sunderland Volunteer Life Brigade to be awarded the Coastguard Long Service Medal.

Mrs Roberts, from Whitburn, joined up in 1993, after following in the footsteps of husband Fred, who is senior captain of the brigade.

It was a groundbreaking move for the brigade, as the former nurse became their first woman member, aged 49.

She said: “If I wanted to talk to Fred, he was always down there at the brigade.

“I always joked I was going to join, so I had a chance to talk to him.

“We have made a lot of friends and did a lot of things we would not have done.

“I’ve been let loose at the helm of a lifeboat and sat in the seat of a Sea King helicopter.”

After joining, Mrs Roberts became brigade treasurer, before being trained as a member of the rescue team, taking part in searches for missing people.

When the Coastguard station opened, Mrs Roberts also trained as a watch keeper, keeping an eye out the coast.

She is now secretary of the brigade, assists with the Watch House museum in Roker and oversees the Duke of Edinburgh Award training scheme.

Mrs Roberts, originally from Barnard Castle, was presented with her medal by Greg Albrighton, sector manager for HM Coastguard Tyne Tees, watched by the Mayor and Mayoress of Sunderland Councillor Robert Heron and wife Juliana.

There are now more than 10 women in the Brigade, which has grown to 70 members.

She added: “We have a lot going on now.

“We have the Duke of Edinburgh Award training and we are trying to get museum accreditation status for the watch house, as it contains the history of the brigade.

“I was the first woman to join, as it was very much a male bastion, but we need new volunteers male and female. You will get training and get to do things you would not normally do.”