Sue Hennessy

Author of books for adults

Available for:
After dinner speaking



Adults, 6th Form and college


My Book - "Hidden Depths: Women of the RNLI"

My book tells of the work done by women in saving lives at sea around our coastline.
For over 180 years images of strong, selfless males have populated the reports and literature of the lifeboat service. What has not been so well documented or recognised are the roles that, right from the very beginning, women have played in working to save lives at sea. The strereotypical image is of women waiting in the lifeboat house for their men to return - brewing tea and giving solace and encouragement to each other. Look more deeply and it becomes clear that women have always been at the heart of the lifeboat operation, undertaking a wide range of tasks which draw upon their distinctive skills and talents. From Victorian times right through to the 21st century, women have been "strong to save".
The RNLI is alive with outstanding women working alongside equally exceptional men, ensuring that as many people as possible who find themselves in trouble, either on or by the sea, live rather than drown.
In "Hidden Depths:Women of the RNLI", we begin to understand what magnificent feats of strength and teamwork these courageous and dedicated women haave performed - and still do.

About Me

I was born in Kent and trained to teach in Liverpool. After a short teaching career, I was so happy to follow the path of my great grandfather, who had been a celebrated coxswain in the Hythe Lifeboat, by taking a job with the RNLI.
I became the founder principal of the RNLI College, which opened in 2004. This is where crew, lifeguards and other volunteers are trained.
I retired in 2008 with a great project in mind. I was acutely aware that the contribution made by women to the work of the RNLI had never been documented. So I made it my first task after retiring! In 2010 "Hidden Depths: Women of the RNLI" was published. I now travel all over the country to share the amazing achievements of RNLI women and have also found interested audiences overseas.

My Talks

I will come and enthral and entertain your group. I can promise you an experienced, inspirational and professional speaker.
My talks are attractive to a wide range of community organisations such as WI, TWG, U3A, Inner Wheel, Rotary, Probus, Tangent, RNLI and also to sailing and other waterbased sports clubs, reading groups, bookshops, conferences and training courses.
I will travel to all parts of the country - and beyond!
I am happy to sell and sign copies of my book.
Speaking fees and expenses are agreed with each engagement. 

What people say

"Thank you so much for a most fascinating talk this morning, delivered so professionally with wonderful panache, warmth and humour. I really enjoyed every minute of it and loved your ability to mix historical facts with inspiring and poignant human interest stories. Judging by the comments I've heard, everyone present echoed my sentiments"
Ysanne Williams - The Royal Motor Yacht Club

"Many thanks for a wonderful talk and slides you presented for us on Thursday. Everyone enjoyed it so much and you made it interesting and fun"
Di Phillips - Dorchester Morning WI

"Would you be able to return by popular demand to Weybay next year?
Annemarie Collins - Weybay WI


My first book - the one I always promised myself I would write
Hidden Depths:Women of the RNLI (isbn:9780752454436)
Women have always been at the heart of the RNLI. Discover these courageous and dedicated women
View in Amazon
Other search criteria:

History and Biography

Book Type:
Non fiction for adults

courageous women, women saving lives, lifeboat service, women volunteers, outstanding women, RNLI women, women lifeboat crew