A HELMSMAN from New Brighton lifeboat station had a chance to put training into practice after leading the rescue of a 'distressed' woman from a sea wall.

Jay Hennessey passed out as helm, after months of practical training and experience, just 20 minutes ahead of pagers sounding on Tuesday night.

His crew was alerted by Coastguard to reports of that the woman and her friend were sitting on the Egremont sea defence wall near the Black Pearl pirate ship.

When the alert came through, Jay was part way through an additional written exam on topics outside his helm training plan, abandoning it for his first call out as RNLI helm.

On shore at Egremont beach, the woman was handed over to waiting coastguard rescue team.

While her condition was being assessed by an off-duty ambulance first responder, the woman again tried to enter the water.

Recalling the incident, Jay said: "Normally there's a bit of time to absorb the news, so it was a surreal moment.

"But that's what we are trained for.

"I'd started the exam around 9pm so I was about halfway when the call came. But there wasn’t time to ponder."

Paying tribute to his fellow crewmen, Jay said: "We were initially providing safety cover, but as the woman made moves to enter the water and repeated this after the man with her headed back to shore, we decided to put crew members Trevor Boyes and Alison Gibbins on with her.

"They successfully encouraged the casualty into the lifeboat and it was a great relief to have her safely onboard.

"Our RNLI shore crew Mark Greensmith, alongside members of Wirral Coastguard Rescue, managed to stop her.

"She was taken into the care of Merseyside Police and we were stood down."

The RNLI volunteers returned to the boathouse and while the lifeboat was made ready for service, Jay completed his exam. He said: "I finished it just after midnight.

"It was great to get it done but the most important priority is always the casualty.

"It's all about saving lives at sea for us. That is paramount."