The latest in our series looking at life behind the fence of one of the largest helicopter bases in Europe, which calls Helston its home.

This week: A man with sea in his blood who made a career on the waves.

Falmouth man Paul Bryant has served in the military for nearly 40 years and his first ship was the most prestigious in the whole of the Royal Navy.

His first post, back in 1981, was as a guard on the historic HMS Victory in Portsmouth. Now, 55-year-old Chief Petty Officer Bryant works for the operations team at 1700 Naval Air Squadron, which is based at RNAS Culdrose in Helston.

He said: “I am Falmouth born and bred. I was born in the high street about five feet from the sea, so I haven’t come very far. My late uncle was Toby West, who was coxswain of Falmouth Lifeboat for many years. I was also a member of Falmouth gig club, although I am too old now of course; I used to row with Dave Barnicoat.”

Chief Petty Officer Bryant has been in the navy for 39 years, with the last five as a reservist.

Unlike most squadrons at Culdrose, 1700 NAS has no aircraft – but instead has 185 specialist men and women who can be deployed in support of ships and squadrons anywhere in the world. They include weapons engineers, flight deck aircraft handlers, air traffic controllers, medical staff, chefs, stewards and logistics specialists.

“Coming to work is the reason I get up in the mornings,” Chief Petty Officer Bryant said. “I find every day is a challenge but it’s a challenge I enjoy. We’ve got to deal with all these deployments. That means travel arrangements and even personal crises – we see it all. One of the biggest aspects is keeping people qualified for whatever role we are sending them away to.

“As a reservist, I also get mobilised twice a year to go to Oman to teach their navy how to use helicopters. That makes an interesting change.”

His most recent job has been overseeing the deployment of a team to RFA Mounts Bay, which was deployed to the Bahamas in the aftermath of the widespread devastation of Hurricane Dorian.