Mouat is honoured after 30-year stint as a coastguard volunteer

Coastguard stalwart Stephen Mouat has stepped down from his voluntary post after 30 years.

Mr Mouat signed up for the coastguard in January 1986 after being asked by a friend to join the service alongside him.

The decision was easy for Mr Mouat, given that voluntary work with the maritime agency runs in the family.

Both his father and grandfather received medals for their lengthy service with the coastguard and now, after 30 years, Mr Mouat has been able to add a “long service” clasp to the medal he received 10 years ago in recognition of his 20 years volunteering.

Summing up his time Mr Mouat referred to his coastguard career as “an enjoyable and varied 30 years” but also a “very busy” three decades.

Stephen Mouat - 1
Stephen Mouat with colleagues Dave Sweeney (L) and Alex Dodge.                    Photo: Dave Donaldson

The 1980s and early 1990s were the busiest times owing to the presence of the Eastern European “klondykers”. During their 15 year stay these floating fish factories were tied up outside Lerwick harbour – sometimes numbering nearly 100 vessels.

This high concentration of ships ensured a busy work schedule for Mr Mouat and his colleagues.
When highlighting some of his toughest challenges as a coastguard volunteer the Green Lily incident of 1997 was one of the most notable. After the ship got into trouble 15 miles from Bressay the coastguard were called in to rescue crew members from the reefer.

Mr Mouat was involved in this operation which saw all of the crew members saved, though a member of the rescue team died during the incident.

By the time of the 2013 Super Puma helicopter crash off of Sumburgh Mr Mouat’s experience was of immense value to the coastguard. Because of this he was elevated to a role of authority during the incident.

In the aftermath of the disaster, which claimed four lives, Mr Mouat was on the ground co-ordinating search and rescue efforts.

His eventful career has also seen him participate in “countless missing person and search and rescue operations”.

Mr Mouat is also proud of the relationships he forged during his time. “I would like to think I had a good relationship with ops [operations] room and the police.” he said.

Colleague Alex Dodge said: “As ex-ops room I can vouch for that.”

Dave Sweeney, a former police officer, similarly attested for the accuracy of Mr Mouat’s feelings about his relationship with the police.

Though he has enjoyed his time with the coastguard Mr Mouat was looking forward to no longer “getting three o’clock in the morning call outs”.

The Lerwick resident said: “I’ve done my bit, now it’s time for the young energetic ones to take over.”

Among those taking up the mantle are Mr Mouat’s son Michael.

If Michael is to emulate the respected position that his father, grandfather and great-grandfather reached – all of whom received medals in recognition of their lengthy service – he will have to be a dedicated and long serving member of the team.

For Mr Mouat it is not quite time for a quiet retirement. He will still continue his work with Irvine Contractors, where he is a site manager, for “at least a few years yet.”


Add Your Comment
  • Ronald Young

    • May 20th, 2016 14:21

    As a southerner from land-locked Derbyshire, we don’t appreciate the had work done by volunteers to keep our shipping safe.

    Everyone knows of the hard work done by RNLI in search & rescue, but the work carried out by volunteer coastguards such as Stephen goes unknown to many.

    So, a big, heart felt “Thank You” to all volunteer coastguards from you at the top end of UK down to those unsung heroes down off the south coast of England.

    There’s no disrespect to the RNLI intended, it’s just that I found the above article fascinating.


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