Bryan Pugh Jones was recently appointed as an Honorary Life Governor of the RNLI due to his devoted service to Aberystwyth Lifeboat station. Born on the 5th May 1941 Bryan decided to join the Aberystwyth Lifeboat in 1958 at the age of 17 and has been part of the station ever since.
Bryan’s first role at the station was as a trainee tractor driver on the large, 15 tonne caterpillar tractor, soon passing his driving test and becoming the youngest tractor driver in the RNLI.
A few years later in May 1963 the RNLI began trials of a new type of lifeboat, an inflatable which went on to become the “D” Class inshore lifeboat (ILB). With a speed of 20 knots it was significantly faster than the All Weather lifeboat “Aguilla Wren” which was stationed in Aberystwyth. The new lifeboat was lighter and faster and had no need for a tractor, so Bryan was trained up as a helmsman on the lifeboat.
In 1964 the Aguilla Wren was withdrawn from service and was permanently replaced with the ILB: the first to be permanently stationed in the UK, making Bryan one of the first ever RNLI helms of an inshore lifeboat.
On the 7th of August 1973, Bryan’s lifeboating skills were put to the test in a unique way, when the inshore lifeboat was asked to assist in flooding at a caravan site in Felin Person, Llanbadarn. After heavy rainfall the site had quickly flooded and people were stranded on the tops of cars and caravans. Bryan and his fellow crew members rescued 80 people that day, in difficult and unusual circumstances.
In 1982 Bryan was awarded the Institutions Long Service Badge. This was also the year that the C Class lifeboat was introduced in Aberystwyth. This larger, faster boat required a tractor to launch and recover and Bryan found himself as a tractor driver again, as well as being a station helm.
1989 saw Bryan take part in the return of the “John and Naomi Beattie”, an old style pulling and sailing lifeboat that had been stationed in Aberystwyth between 1906 and 1933. The boat had been restored by the Swansea Industrial and Maritime museum, and was rowed for an S4C documentary from Swansea to Aberystwyth by Bryan and a mix of crews from The Mumbles and Aberystwyth RNLI. That wasn’t the only rowing that Bryan was involved in during 1989, he also took part in the 22 hour Arklow to Aberystwyth sponsored row, helping to raise £4000 for the Bronglais Scanner Appeal. 2 years later in 1991 Brian again returned to Arklow to take part in another sponsored row, this time to raise money for a new station lifeboat.
1991 was also the year Bryan retired as a crewman and became a Deputy Launching Authority, who has responsibility for when a lifeboat launches. When the new Atlantic 75 lifeboat arrived at Aberystwyth in 1993, Bryan was appointed as the station’s mechanic, a role he held until 2001 aged 60. He continued his post as DLA until 2011, a duty he performed quietly and efficiently, gaining the respect of the crew.
Bryan still visits the station most Sundays to pass on his knowledge and take part in the banter. The station was established over 150 years ago, Bryan has been involved for nearly 60 of those years and continues to do so: amazing!
In between all of the above, he also managed to fit in around 1500 games of football for Aberystwyth Town FC!