Photo courtesy Richmond RCM-SAR
Barry Hastings is a humble man with a great sense of humour.
Richmond’s Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue, formerly known as the Coast Guard Auxiliary, recently gave the Richmond resident a 35-year award and honoured him by naming one of their rescue boats the BR Hastings.
Greg Miller, currently Pacific region chair for the marine search and rescue organization, has worked with and known Hastings for 23 years.
“It was important to recognize Barry and show his family how much we valued his contribution so we named that vessel in honour of him. It’s an actual boat that goes out and does rescues,” Miller says. He describes Hastings as a “caring, humble individual. He doesn’t like being recognized for his efforts.”
Hastings’ day job was with the professional Coast Guard, often as a radio operator.
“Years ago, we were sitting on a quiet watch and these guys decided we needed handles to use on the CB radio.”
Each person’s initials were turned into a nickname. Barry Hastings says his became, “ ‘Barely Human’ because I was a practical joker. I’m still known as that,” Hastings says with a smile.
After their years on the water, today both Hastings and Miller do most of their volunteering on land.
“It’s a young man’s game, waking up at 2 a.m. to get up and bomb around the river and then get up and go to work,” says Miller.
In addition to the numerous incidents on the water that Hasting attended both as a volunteer and as a coast guard employee, he was also the Richmond station training volunteer.
Reflecting on his volunteer time, Hastings says it was a lot of fun and a lot of stress.
“But 35 years ago when I joined the auxiliary, it was the total enjoyment of running those inflatables for search and rescue. Then when the job was in teaching, the total enjoyment was meeting all the volunteers, teaching and meeting all these people, seeing why they're there.”
Hastings says that at the ceremony honouring him, he only spoke very briefly.
“When I finished I touched the forehead, lips and heart, to say my thoughts, my words, my heart will always speak of you. Because that’s what these people meant to me. These people who sacrifice their time, who put their live at risk, that others may live.”