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Senior roles for Solway coastguard colleagues

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale
Senior roles for Solway coastguard colleagues

AFTER two decades as station officer of Annan's volunteer HM Coastguard unit, Stewart Bryden has been appointed to a full-time role with the service.

FRESH CHALLENGES . . . newly-appointed Kirkcudbright-based HM Coastguard senior coastal operations officer Stewart Bryden, left, and his successor as Annan station officer Dave Byers

 

The 46-year-old has been promoted to senior coastal operations officer based at what was previously the Solway sector HQ in Dee Walk, Kirkcudbright.

He is one of five operations officers taking on a new supervisory role along the extensive coastline of south west Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The changes are part of an ongoing reorganisation by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which will see control of north Solway units transferred from Liverpool (Holyhead) to Belfast.

While his day-to-day focus will be on the Solway coast, Stewart will work an ‘on call’ shift pattern with the other four operations officers based in other parts of the Belfast control area.

This could see him called out to major incidents elsewhere in the south west and Northern Ireland.

Stewart, who lives with his wife and family in Annan, has extensive experience of water rescues ranging from the Carlisle floods to the many incidents on the Solway, notably those involving cocklers during the massive influx several years ago.

He says he is looking forward to the challenges of the job, which will also see him regularly on callouts and training exercises with the local units at Annan, Port Ling, Kirkcudbright and Isle of Whithorn.

He said: “We’ve a fantastic team of volunteers in the Coastguard locally and in independent groups like Nith Rescue. From a work point of view it will be great to put all my focus on my Coastguard role.

“This is a bit of a transitional period and Belfast will officially takeover as our operations centre on September 1.

“I’ve noticed an increase in the number of call-outs down the years, which could be down to various factors such as people spending more time on the coast and water generally and a growth of extreme weather.”

Stewart added: “The units along the Solway are an important part of the restructured service. The local knowledge and training the teams have is a real asset.”

Taking over as station officer at the Annan unit, which is based at the town’s Fire Station, is Stewart’s former deputy Dave Byers.

The 37-year-old, who runs a barber’s business on Annan High Street, is looking for three more volunteers to take the unit up to its full complement of nine.

He said: “I’m pleased and privileged to have been part of the Annan team for six and a half years. My aim is for us to continue doing a good job for the community and visitors.”

 

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