International Volunteer Day: Longest-serving Coastguards with more than 150 years’ combined service

International Volunteer Day: Longest-serving Coastguards with more than 150 years’ combined service

What do Scotsman Neil, Welshman Anthony and Northern Irishman Kenneth have in common? They are among His Majesty’s Coastguard’s longest serving volunteers in the UK.
Three Coastguards stood facing each other, smiling, at Holy Island Causeway

The three Coastguard Rescue Officers have spent more than 150 years combined keeping people safe at the coast across the UK.

They embody the spirit of the service, as does every single one of our volunteers, who offer their services for the safety and care of others.

This International Volunteer Day, we want to thank them – however long they have served – as we recognise the power of collective action in water safety.

Director of HM Coastguard Claire Hughes and Chief Coastguard Pete Mizen have led the praise and recognition of teams, whose "sacrifice and commitment is never taken for granted".

Claire said: “Every single volunteer is indispensable to HM Coastguard and whether you are with us for one year or 50 years, we deeply value your selfless contribution to bringing people home in their worst moments.

“Our long serving coastguards are key to passing on experience and expertise as well as helping to create the family dynamic that so many of our teams cherish. In fact, it is often the perfect combination of young enthusiasm and old experience that work in tandem to safe lives.”

Pete added: “I started my career with HM Coastguard as a volunteer back in 1991 so I fully appreciate and respect the commitment and sacrifice that our volunteers give.  The Service is extremely proud of them all and we will never take their dedication for granted.”

Neil, a volunteer with the Port Charlotte Coastguard Rescue Team on the Isle of Islay, signed up in 1965 and now holds the crown as the longest-serving coastguard following the retirement of Keith Dare-Williams at the end of 2022.

Joining on 20 November 1965, he has watched as the service has developed into the modern, high-tech Coastguard of today.

Meanwhile Anthony (Tony) has spent 55 years in Coastguard coveralls overlooking Swansea Bay as a volunteer at Mumbles Coastguard Rescue Team in Wales. He has long been the Deputy Station Officer, providing support to the team since 1968.

Northern Ireland’s longest serving coastguard Kenneth has an impressive 46 years of maritime search and rescue experience under his belt, as a Coastguard Rescue Officer in Portmuck. It says a lot about the incredible commitment in the service that his four and a half decades of volunteering does not put him in the top 10 list of current longest-serving coastguards.

From the longest-serving to the newest-serving – every month sees new starters across the UK – we have a team of dedicated, caring and committed individuals working together to keep people safe at our coasts.

If you’re interested in finding out more about volunteering with HM Coastguard, visit the Volunteer as a Coastguard page. 

Main photo: stock image


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