Youngest-ever female station officer takes the reins

As more women than ever are joining HM Coastguard, the Scottish island of Tiree is breaking down barriers with the appointment of Louise Reid to lead a majority female team.

From left: Hayley Douglas, Station Officer Louise Reid and sister Megan Reid.

The new head of Tiree Coastguard Rescue Team, Louise Reid, is no stranger to breaking down barriers having become the first female volunteer on the island when she signed up in 2017. Her management perfectly illustrates the changing face of HM Coastguard; to one that truly embraces the inclusion of women in its teams.

In fact, this is reflected in the number of women that have entered the Coastguard’s ranks since the start of 2021; with 25 per cent of current female cohort of Coastguard Rescue Officers having signed up since 1 January 2021.

Louise is flanked by deputy Hayley Douglas and sister Megan Reid, the three represent a significant changing of the guard of the coastguard not just on the Isle of Tiree – the most westerly island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland – but nationwide, as it is believed that Louise is the youngest ever female Station Officer (SO) anywhere in the UK. Louise said that she may have been the first woman to ever volunteer for the team, but change has come quickly since. Megan signed up in 2019, followed by Hayley last year. And, alongside sister Megan, is a rare example – possibly unique in the service – of coastguarding sisters.

Louise said, “It is something I am very proud of, being the first woman in the local team. I hope that I have helped to show other women that they can sign up as well. 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.

“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.”

Senior Coastal Operations Officer Kathrine Duffin agreed, as she described it as ‘a really special time on Tiree’.

“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.