Hazel Banner sailed into the history books on 5 August, 1997, when she became the first
of four babies to be born on board Oban RNLI lifeboat Mora Edith MacDonald.
Now 18-year-old Hazel has made a special pilgrimage to Oban lifeboat station for a trip down memory lane – and there were several surprises in store for her.
Hazel, who has the middle name Mora as a permanent reminder of her unusual place of birth, was taken out in the lifeboat. Then she was presented with an exact replica of the lifeboat's brass bell, engraved with her name and date of birth.
Miss Banner said she has always had an affinity with the sea. She said: "I think the bell is lovely. I have always been aware of where I was born and I have always liked the sea.
"I am a member of the RNLI and the family does fundraising for them at coffee mornings and other things."
Mike Robertson, Chairman of Oban Lifeboat, said: "I am delighted to welcome Hazel back to
the station to receive the ship's bell for her 18th birthday.
"Quite often call outs on a lifeboat are memorable for sad reasons, like the Fife fishermen yesterday."
But he added: "The safe arrival of young Hazel 18 years ago has been remembered for the happiest of reasons.
"The fact that the name Mora, part of the lifeboat name, is also part of Hazel's name, has made it all the more special for everyone at the station."
Hazel's parents, Jane and Nick Banner, lived at Bunessan, on the isle of Mull, at the time of her birth.
Mrs Banner, 47, of St John’s Town of Dalry, near Castle Douglas, said: "I was part way through my labour on Mull when it was decided that I should be transported to hospital on the mainland and so, it being the early hours, there was no ferry and I was met by the midwife and the lifeboat and when we reached Oban we moored at the pier.
"Hazel's birth certificate gives Oban pier as her place of birth. I had been moved in the early hours and it was 9.01am when I gave birth, with my husband supporting me at one end and the midwife at the other.
"It was quite small in the lifeboat, so I can see why the crew kept going up on deck for air."
Hazel made the trip to Oban with her grandparents, Tricia and Dave MacBeth, and was delighted to meet up with midwife Joanne Thorpe, who delivered her, as well as past and present members of Oban lifeboat and RNLI officials.
Mrs Thorpe, who journeyed from Oban to Mull with the lifeboat to collect Mrs Banner in 1997. recalled: "It was a beautiful morning and when we got to Oban there was an ambulance waiting.
"I said to Jane, do you want to stay here or go into the ambulance - it would have meant lifting her up - she wanted to stay (on the lifeboat) and the rest is history."
After a tour on the lifeboat, around Oban Bay, Douglas Craig, who was coxswain of the lifeboat in 1997, presented Miss Banner with a replica of the lifeboat's brass bell.
He said: "It is a navy tradition that if a child is born on a navy ship they are presented with a ship's bell when they are eighteen. We have adopted that tradition."
The four babies born on board the lifeboat are:August 5, 1997 Hazel Beth Mora Banner;
September 13, 2001 Kerrie Hazel MacGillivray; October 6, 2005 Emma Cato;
August 3, 2009 Van Harris Wilson.
Hazel Banner is the first of the Oban lifeboat babies to turn eighteen although Van Harris Wilson, the first boy to be born on board, was the first to receive his lifeboat bell. He was presented with his bell sixteen years early, at the age of two, in March 2011, before his family emigrated to Australia, in case he never returned to Scotland. The family has, however, since moved back to the isle of Mull.
RNLI Media Contacts: Richard Smith, RNLI Public Relations Manager for Scotland, 07786 668903