I joined the Royal Navy in September 1973 having grown up in rural Sussex and decided that farming was not a long-term career for me. Like many people of my generation I followed my father (RAF) and grandfather (RN) into the military. In fact, my grandfather was involved in the Battle of the Falkland Islands 1914 whilst serving on the battlecruiser HMS Inflexible, small world indeed!
Entering the RN at 16 ½, I started as Junior Marine Engineering Mechanic Second Class, a grand sounding title, but at the bottom of the pile and served on the assault ship HMS Fearless and frigates HMS Brighton & HMS Plymouth with a spell as part of the Chatham Fleet Maintenance group before commencing the Mechanician Qualifying Course at HMS Sultan.
This was followed by a draft to HMS Bulwark and at the outbreak of hostilities in 1982 I was a newly minted Chief Petty Officer (MECH1) aboard assault ship HMS Intrepid being decommissioned in Portsmouth ready for sale to India. Within ten days of notification and with great support from the Dockyard and Naval Stores, we were able to achieve full power and prepared to head South. During the Falklands campaign my action station made me responsible for the ship’s Sterngate Control. Many association members will have passed through that open sterngate at some point.
At the end of my nine years of “man’s time” in 1984, I decided to leave the RN and step into the wider world taking a job with an American multinational company where I stayed for 32 years. This gave me the opportunity to live and work around the world before settling back in the UK. During that time I worked and latterly negotiated with different cultures at many levels.
Having been a member of the South Atlantic Medal Association since 1997 and now retired, I felt the time was right to give something back and make a contribution, so I answered a call for Trustee’s and here I am, facing the challenges of dealing with Health & Safety, Data Protection and AGM planning.
I am also a Qualified Watchkeeper with the National Coastwatch Institute or “Eyes Along the Coast”, spending my watches at the lookout located at the entrance to Shoreham Harbour, on the south coast, keeping an eye out for vulnerable sailors, swimmers and boarders etc.
Disclaimer: Trustee Profile written & submitted by Mr Stephen Penfold