Royal NZ Coastguard Gold Chevron for 50 years service


Tonight it is my privilege to present Captain Barry Thompson with a RNZCG 50 Year Service Gold Chevron.
There have been just five of these awarded to date throughout NZ Coastguard, two are our own, the late Monty McHugh's are mounted on our Distinguished Service Award and Ron McPherson.
A product of the highly respected British Merchantile Marine Officer training system Barry served 20 years with the Port Line, he is a master mariner. If its a boat he can drive it but more importantly the benefits of having a system for running a fleet and sticking to it without a fuss were second nature.
AVCG was experiencing troubled times in the 60's and the unit was close to extinction. Barry had recently retired from the Merchant Service and moved to New Zealand and was invited to join AVCG to put his excellent skills to work.
It was a good call and he and other talented people steadied the ship and by the mid 1960s AVCG was becoming clothed with a mantle of respectability, with many esteemed members of the community involved with its direction and support.
As is his way in his search for excellence while still a cadet he sought first hand knowledge of search and rescue by falling overboard from the Port Fremantle somewhere in the Pacific.
Another future President and Life Member was on the other end of the rope that day. Alan Haddock calls it their first association in a Search and Rescue operation. Barry would one day take over from Alan as President 'never take on a volunteer job until you find someone you can offload it to' the wise man said.
Navigation and chartwork were his bread and butter and he was an excellent tutor.  With his drive formal manuals for the unit were created.
In 1976 he was again in the top chair as President. He is the only person to have held both Commanding Officer and Presidents positions.
Terms of office were two years and in 1979 Barry was again able to focus on training. He was working with a wider canvas as Alan Haddock was now putting together what we now know as CBES.
He became a Honorary Life Member in 1999.
Barry spent his spare time over something like 15 years researching Coast Guard history when few formal records were being retained. Thankfully several people who had made it all happen were still alive and Barry was able to interview them and get our history down on paper before it was lost.
The result, his book Deeds Not Words should be essential reading for all those who aspire to hold office in Auckland Coastguard and his enterprise as an author should never be forgotten.

Dean Lawrence, President
Royal New Zealand Coastguard