22 May 2024

Lifeboat leader Sue ‘thrilled’ to be made MBE

by Rebecca Hannant

The chairman of Hornsea Inshore Rescue has been made an MBE in the King’s first New Year Honours list.

Sue Hickson-Marsay, who is also the lifeboat’s station manager, began her career in lifeguarding at Hull’s Woodford Leisure Centre in 1991 while also serving as a coastguard in Hornsea.

That year, the coastguard’s inshore patrol boat was moved to Hull, leaving Hornsea with no emergency cover, and the nearest RNLI stations were at Bridlington and Withernsea. Several local people, including Sue, decided to set up their own independent lifeboat and charity.

Within three years, enough money was raised to purchase their first lifeboat and Hornsea Inshore Rescue became operational in 1994. Sue was then working full-time as a training instructor for Humberside Offshore Training Agency (HOTA), teaching sea survival techniques and emergency helicopter procedures to workers in the offshore oil and gas industry. Her spare time was taken up looking after her horses, dogs and donkeys and being a crew member for Hornsea Inshore Rescue.

In 1997, Sue left HOTA to become the only female pilot launch coxswain in the country, ferrying pilots up to 25 miles offshore, and in all weather conditions, to the ships entering and leaving the Humber.

Before this, Sue had to serve her time as a deckhand and, hardest of all, successfully overcome chronic sea sickness. Sue worked as a pilot launch coxswain for 24 years and during that time became chairman of Hornsea Inshore Rescue.

Over the years she oversaw the development of Hornsea Inshore Rescue from a converted Ribtech RIB housed in an ex-pig sty on the leisure park to a state-of-the-art organisation with specialist lifeboats, launching gear and a bespoke boathouse and multipurpose building to act as the charity’s headquarters.

In 2000 Sue was appointed a Churchill Fellow and was awarded a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship to spend six weeks in Australia and New Zealand studying pilotage operations, search and rescue and water safety for children. On her return Sue won the Churchill Fellow of the Year Award, which was presented at a ceremony by Churchill’s daughter, Mary Soames.

Sue has also won numerous other awards including the Women of Achievement Award from Women in Business, and the organisation has received many more accolades under Sue’s stewardship.

Funding a highly specialised rescue organisation to the same standards as the RNLI costs a large amount of money, currently about £55,000 a year, and Sue has been instrumental as a major fundraiser throughout the past 30 years.

In 2020 Sue became manager of the East Riding boat launch facility, now called Hornsea Boat Launch, and all profits from this organisation go to Hornsea Inshore Rescue.

When Hornsea Inshore Rescue first started, Sue was quoted as saying, “If Hornsea Rescue saves just one life, it will have been worth it.” Since then, Hornsea Inshore Rescue has saved many lives and has had 37 call-outs in the past year and a half.

Sue has also developed a fully trained and equipped flood rescue service and a sea safe education centre. Hornsea Inshore Rescue is also a Royal Yachting Association-accredited training organisation and offers courses and licences for offshore power boating, jet ski handling, VHF radio operation and marine-focused first aid. All these courses help bring in much-needed funds for the charity.

Sue’s current major project is the conversion of the roof of the boat launch building into an open-air terrace and weather-protected viewing point. It is hoped to be fully functional later this year.

On hearing she had been made an MBE, Sue said: “I am absolutely thrilled. I had no idea this was about to happen, but it will be very good publicity for Hornsea Inshore Rescue, and it is through the efforts of some wonderful crew and supporters over the years that it has come about. We have a wonderful team.”

Sue was made an MBE for services to the community through the provision of an independent lifeboat, flood rescue and sea-safe education service.