A sailor has swapped the balmy temperatures of Blyth for those just above freezing – in Blyth.
Paul Dixon has been stationed on board HMS Blyth in Bahrain, but is now back home in Northumberland after completing a demanding six-month tour of duty.
The 37-year-old former Cramlington High School pupil served as the minehunter’s marine engineer officer in overall charge of engines, generators, air conditioning and water supply.
The ship is tasked with keeping the sea lanes of the Gulf and Middle East free of any obstructions and mines, especially those laid in deep water. She is one of four British minehunters, plus a mother ship, permanently stationed at the new Royal Navy base in Bahrain.
Paul said: “It was the hottest Gulf summer in recent years, with temperatures often reaching 50C, but despite that, the engineering team kept HMS Blyth on task.
“Blyth was the ‘ship of choice’ for hosting high-profile visitors, as well as spending 76 days at sea, including the longest period since she was commissioned, during the hottest time of the year.”
After growing up in South Beach in Blyth, Paul joined the Royal Navy aged 17.
He said: “I always wanted to work on engines at the heart of the ship, keeping everything ticking over and re-enacting wartime images of the oily engine room mechanic.”
Despite mostly based on the Clyde or in Portsmouth, Paul has been a regular visitor to the north east with the Royal Navy, including on the HMS Ark Royal when she paid her final visit to the Tyne before decommissioning in 2010.
Now Paul is gearing up for a fresh challenge – climbing Mount Fiji in Japan. A keen sportsman, he was involved in charity activities aboard HMS Blyth, chiefly organising events for Macmillan Cancer Support.
For his latest challenge, Paul is raising money for the Amelia Mae Foundation, which helps children with neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer.
He can be supported via www.justgiving.com/fundraising/paul-dixon25
After two decades in the Royal Navy, Paul reckons he has reached his goals and can look back with pride on what he has achieved.
“When I look back at where I’ve come from and what I’ve been through, I feel proud of my achievements,” he added.
“I’m proud to be able to pass on my knowledge, skills and mindset to the next generation of naval engineers. I believe in myself, push my limits, have reached my goals and I’m extremely happy with the success I’ve achieved in the Royal Navy.”