Captain Hugh Fogarty joined the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) in 1984, and has been described by its Chief Executive as ‘a man of genuine humanity who cares deeply for his professional colleagues.’
Using his knowledge, expertise and powers of persuasion, he pioneered the creation of the charity’s Flood Rescue Team, which has seen many lives saved since its inception in the year 2000.
In 2012, the team – made up of volunteers – were deployed no fewer than 12 times, rescuing 81 people and saving 6 lives. It was also in this year that the first RNLI medal for bravery was awarded to three members of the Flood Rescue Team for the rescue of a woman clinging to a tree in a swollen river in Devon.
But it was not just flood rescue where Hugh was instrumental in driving change; his 30-year career has seen him undertake trials of lifeboats in all manner of sea conditions. Hugh was responsible for creating the operational specifications for a fast and capable fleet of lifeboats, a complex role which involved balancing strength, design and cost.
This, so says RNLI Chief Executive Paul Boissier, is no mean feat: ‘It’s a huge responsibility – ensuring that lifeboats are robust enough to withstand all that nature can throw at them.
‘Hugh is held in the highest regard by the many thousands of volunteers who crew our lifeboats across the country. In the words of a well-known crew member, ‘if the boat is good enough for Hugh, it’s good enough for me.’’
Whilst Hugh’s responsibilities as Head of Operations (Operational Support) came with high accountability and often the need to make some critical decisions, Hugh is perhaps best known outside the RNLI for his light-hearted role as Walter Only, the mascot of the 2014 H2Only campaign where participants were challenged to drink only water for two weeks.
Walter urged participants to become ‘masters of self-control’ and raise vital funds to enable the charity to save more lives at sea. The challenge is set to return in the summer of 2015.
Paul continues: ‘Hugh has made a huge difference to the future direction of the RNLI. I am delighted he has been recognised with an MBE.’
Meanwhile, other volunteers from the charity have also been recognised in the Queen’s New Year Honours List. David Martin, from Monifieth in Dundee, has been a volunteer with the RNLI for the last 26 years, and more recently became the volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager at not one, but two lifeboat stations – a feat almost unheard of in the RNLI’s 190 year history.
The role of Lifeboat Operations Manager is unpaid, yet it requires consistently effective management skills and an almost limitless commitment of time – it is the Lifeboat Operations Manager who selects and trains a crew, ensures the lifeboat is fully maintained, and authorises it for launch, often in difficult or dangerous conditions. David will receive an MBE for the difference he has made at both Broughty Ferry and Peterhead lifeboat stations.
Mike Hewitt, from Wadebridge in Cornwall, also receives an MBE for his commitment to water safety on the Camel Estuary. Mike was instrumental in persuading the RNLI to open a station at Rock, following a spate of accidents on the Estuary which Mike was often the first to respond to. The station was established in 1988 and has assisted 270 people and saved 82 lives since.
Also in Cornwall, Roy Pascoe from Mousehole will receive the British Empire Medal in recognition of his unwavering commitment to the lifeboat crew and wider community of Newlyn. Following the tragic events of 19 December 1981, where all eight crew of the lifeboat Solomon Browne were lost in a service to the stricken coaster Union Star, Roy did much to calm and reassure others in a community hit by tragedy and he has continued to provide this support, staying close to the families and acting as a constant source of wisdom, encouragement and cheerful enthusiasm for the crew.
Swansea man Steve Davies has been recognised as an inspirational speaker on the subject of sea safety, sharing his knowledge with all that he encounters in order that adults and children alike are aware of the dangers of the sea. He will be made an MBE.
Tireless fundraisers from the North of England have also been recognised – Sue Watson, 73, from Flamborough will receive the British Empire Medal in recognition of her continued commitment to raising vital funds to enable the RNLI to carry out its lifesaving work. In a small, traditional seaside village, Sue is the driving force behind a fundraising group which holds innovative and highly successful fundraising events, including the much loved Maggot Racing; Sue herself is often found at the front of the crowds of children, cheering on the racing maggots.
Meanwhile Tom Ridyard, 72, from Bolton, has been a volunteer fundraiser for the RNLI for the past two decades. In addition, he was one of the leaders of the clean-up operation at Lytham St Annes Lifeboat Station following the storm and tidal surges of December 2013, ensuring the lifeboat could remain on service despite the adverse weather. He will be made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).
Notes to editors
• Full breakdown of awards as follows:
o Hugh J Fogarty – MBE
o David Martin – MBE
o William Michael Hewitt (Mike) – MBE
o Roy Pascoe – BEM
o Stephen Davies – MBE
o Tom Ridyard – MBE
o Sue Watson – BEM
• An experienced mariner with 13 years spent in the Merchant Navy, Hugh joined the RNLI in 1984. His most recent post was Head of Operations (Operational Support) which he held from February 2013 to July 2014.
• The British Empire Medal (BEM), recently revived by David Cameron after being phased out during John Major’s term in office, is awarded to people for work in their local community.
• The Member of the Order of the British Empire recognises distinguished service to the arts and sciences, public services outside the Civil Service and work with charitable and welfare organisations of all kinds. There are five grades, as well as the recently added British Empire Medal (BEM)
o Knight Grand Cross or Dame Grand Cross (GBE)
o Knight Commander or Dame Commander (KBE or DBE)
o Commander (CBE)
o Officer (OBE)
o Member (MBE)
For further information, please contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.