Coastguard volunteer gains special recognition after 35 years

A coastguard rescue officer who has spent more than three decades volunteering in Shetland has been awarded for his commitment.

Ronnie Leslie has been with HM Coastguard for more than 35 years. He was given his award by coastal divisional commander, Sue Todd, at a presentation attended by family, friends and colleagues.

Senior coastal operations officer, Dave Sweeney, said Mr Leslie had been very committed to the coastguard service.

“This presentation is very important as it recognises Ronnie’s commitment to HM Coastguard over 35 years, his commitment to the south end. and the wider Shetland community.”

Mr Leslie said he had enjoyed his time with the coastguard. “It’s been an eventful time in the coastguard. I’m glad to see the younger people coming through now and I really recommend it to the younger generation.”

Ms Todd paid tribute to the volunteering efforts of people like Ronnie as she gave him his award.

“The volunteers in our service do a tremendous job, day in, day out all the way around the coast. It’s great we’ve got teams in this day and age that are still prepared to commit an awful lot of time and energy to coastguard rescue work.

“I’m very grateful for the years of service Ronnie’s given us. Thirty five years is a very long time to be doing anything. I’m particularly delighted there’s so many family members here tonight because family plays a huge part in coastguard rescue.

“You’re the people who are disturbed in the middle of the night when the pager goes off or when the guys go out to a job and don’t go home for hours or days at a time. Everyone plays their part.
“Generations before Ronnie have been Coastguards and generations to come too.”

Mr Sweeney said he was currently looking for more people to join the coastguard rescue teams.

“You’ve got to enjoy team working and being part of a team. There’s a lot of exciting aspects to being a coastguard rescue volunteer – we have rope rescue, which involves going over a cliff, water rescue, search and communications to name a few, however there’s a whole variety of different
skills to learn in the coastguard rescue service.

“It makes you feel part of the community and contributing to that community.

“I’m a coastguard because I really enjoy all the aspects of what the coastguard does. And of course as part of the bigger picture I’ve always been inclined to help the community. Shetland has an amazing community spirit which makes it a marvellous place to live, everyone helps each other out in times in need and that’s what being in the coastguard is like, we help people in times of need. It’s
why we have dedicated volunteers like Ronnie Leslie.

“We do need more people throughout Shetland. We need people from all different walks of life.

“People have different skills sets that they can all bring to the role and that’s what being part of the team involves. It’s finding all these different skills and bringing them together to make a team.

“We’ve got a cracking set of people throughout the coastguard in Shetland, they’re all different, they all bring different qualities and skills.

“It’s all about knowing you’re making a difference. It’s that feeling of knowing ‘I helped someone today.’”

Coastguard rescue teams operate in Baltasound, Mid Yell, Hillswick, Walls, Whalsay, Lerwick, Bressay, Sumburgh and Fair Isle.


Add Your Comment
  • David Ball

    • October 16th, 2016 1:13

    Congratulations to one of the unsung heroes of the UK. Coastguards like Ronnie serve their local communities 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Always on call, ready to respond to any coastal situation, and inland if required. Well Done, sir, and many more years of service.

    Best wishes,

    David Ball


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