I was in the army years ago. I was just an ordinary soldier but, when it came to shooting, I discovered that no one could touch me. Then I got a disease in my eye that resulted in double vision and my scores went down, so I packed it in.
Around 15 years ago, just after I moved to Cleethorpes, my mum saw an ad in the local newspaper saying that the inshore lifeboat station was recruiting. I used to sail, so I went along and had an interview. The next thing I knew, I was in a dry suit and out at sea on the inshore lifeboat (ILB), since the first test was to see whether I had sea legs.
When I was at university, I was flying a stunt kite one day when a man came over and asked if I wanted to try a proper kite. It was a power kite, and the first time I tried it I was hooked.
My great-grandfather was a gamekeeper and my grandmother had a pheasant in a case in her house: it had the longest tail ever recorded for a Reeves’s pheasant. As a child I always admired it. There were also two short-eared owls, given to my grandfather on his return from war. I was fascinated by them, and that’s how I got into taxidermy.
About 15 years ago, my wife and I were walking through the countryside when we came across a swarm of bees in a bush. It was something I’d never seen before, except on television and it was amazing – nature in its purest form.
Growing up in Henley-on-Thames I might have gravitated towards rowing, but kayaks were far more interesting. However, I swapped small boats for big boats when I joined the navy and left the canoes and kayaks to one side.
In 1998, I left the Royal Navy, where I had been a hydrographic surveyor. Something that the navy instils in you is team spirit and I was keen to maintain that element. My wife knew someone at the Falmouth Coastguard and a year later I joined up.
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