Save our Coastal Services by Misti Debonno

 The Pride of Britain

There is nothing that upsets me more than blatant disregard for our unsung hero’s.  Be it our soldiers, NHS workers, firemen, policemen, sea-faring RNLI or Coast Guards to name but a few. And so it was with total devastation I read about the proposed Coastguards Station closures.  My heart sank at such an incredulous loss to our once Great country…

Dating back as far as pre A.D. 400 civilians were employed to watch our coast and give warning of any impending attacks from the Saxon longboats.  The then ‘Count of the Saxon Shore’ (intelligent ruler that he was) had realised our weak coastal defences and set about building watch towers to house guards, who from their vast vantage point would protect the villagers from such threats as invasion .  Using light beacons they would warn villagers of such peril and summon the troops.  In the 1900’s, however, evolution demanded that the now hugely profitable smuggling activities should lead to the formation of the Coast Guard’s to man our shores against this new age threat.    Yet again these heroic men who are accredited with an innate understanding of both their shores and seas were called upon to man our coasts during the Second World War.  As with many traditional backgrounds knowledge is passed down throughout generations and with it comes a deep-seated love and understanding for all that encompasses.  No matter how many books are studied one would never be able to offer the personal knowledge that these coastguards have inherited, gathered and maintained.  To the average Joe however, our Coastguards are accredited as being a vital part of a  ‘Life-Saving Force’ and as such we proudly hold them in a status of honour.  Their combined efforts with the RNLI etc, in providing a ‘search and rescue’ role has saved many lives.  Who amongst us would feel happy knowing that our government had procured financial savings at the cost of our safety, indeed against the value of our lives.

In recent years there has been many a story relating to the rescue of crew men upon suffering serious damage to their vessels during storms, to include cargo ships, yachts and boats.  The Coast Guard is always first point of call in these situations and it’s a crying shame that though we may admire from afar we never stop to truly understand  the depths of their passion for the job.

Though most rescue’s are completed successfully and without loss of life, these great men know no boundaries.  ‘Days before Christmas in 1981, the Union Star cargo ship contacted our Coastguards informing them of their ship’s engine failure.  They were at the mercy of force 12 winds with terrifying 60ft (18m) waves that tossed the large vessel about as though it were a mere toy.  Instantly our Coast Guards sprang into action requesting both the launch of the RNLI lifeboat and also the assistance of an R.A.F helicopter!  Despite valiantly battling the raging seas and repeatedly going alongside the cargo boat to rescue those on board, the eight strong crew lost their lives performing the job that they loved, had a great understanding about and believed in…

Inevitably there would be tremendous pressure put on all rescue teams without that vital support of the Coast Guards.  In particular the experience and knowledge built and gained from many years devotion to both the job and the area being critical to such rescue’s.  Quite simply, without such backup there would be a great many more tragedies…

As South West yachtsman Alex Bennett said “Our coastguards do a fantastic, professional job and it’s because they have that local knowledge.  They know the waters and how the weather affects them and that’s why they are able to act decisively to save lives.”

As a nation, we it’s people need to stand tall and fight these proposed closures.  We should all be full of admiration for these unsung hero’s.  Recently through ‘Twitter’ I have met so many deep-hearted guy’s, many of them Coast Guards, who oddly enough all choose careers that take them away from the security of their personal lives.  Their roles infringing upon family relationships and sometimes incurring risk to themselves, yet making them the kind of individuals that our Government keeps informing us our great nation is seriously depleted of

Great Britain is constructed of history, pride and life-long traditions.  Our Coast Guards are a unique team, and in as much as they choose their job, the job also chooses them.  They give up their time to meticulously implement and oversee rescue missions for us, though we spend little time thanking them for it.  Our Coast Guards are born and bred with a passion for our coastal shoes and treacherous waters.  Take that away from them and you have not only taken away their very substance but you have deprived future generations of an incredulous knowledge that cannot be taught in text books, of a passion that fires their commitment to complete a job no matter the cost to their own lives, both physically and emotionally.  And so, sadly, you the Government, are the ones who will finally stamp out the ‘Great‘ in Great BRITAIN.

Having researched the Governments modernisation plans, I surprised myself in actually agreeing with them! The modern-day demands that we continue to evolve with it but in their haste to meet this new challenge, they are riding rough-shod over our safety and crushing the structure that has always bound us as a nation.  Today, there is  more demand than ever before for our Coast Guards.  All stations should be incorporated into such plans instead of the proposed closures.  There is always room for improvement and progression but be warned ‘Government’, take away our Coast Guards and you will be held accountable for the inevitable deaths your actions bring.  And those losses will go down in history as having being dealt by your own hand!!!


My temples ached badly but that was nothing new… The headache’s and nightmares had been progressing at an alarming rate for quite a while.   Hence the need to ‘run away’, one of those traits that has stayed with me throughout my life…

Taking the bull by the horns, I demanded a change of direction from my agent and found myself in a totally different scenario as I touched down in LAX bound for Hollywood.  Thinking back I should have felt excited, energised anything but the nothingness that filled my entire being!  The grandeur of my opulent surroundings was wasted on me, my emotions of the past 6 months had epitomised a full turnabout.  Now here I was with nothing but a holdall and an article that would need to be written if I was to hold on to my career.  A challenge to say the least…

The Hollywood jet set are an impressive bunch and as usual I did nothing to fade into the background, my trademark torn jeans, tan boots and faded t-shirt stretched to almost fall off my shoulder gained me more than one sniff of disdain.  I guess thinking back I was on a path to destruction.  Wanting them to look at me with revulsion felt safe, it was a real emotion after all.

The collection of my hire car was the one thing that brought a smile to my face, a Jeep Wrangler Sahara in my favourite colour, black.  Though in all honesty I’d have given my right arm for a Hummer, well not literally…  I love the aroma that hits you when you get inside a new car and this one was aroma intensified.  Being unable to remember when I had last slept persuaded me to head straight to my hotel for a relaxing bath and bed.  Simple enjoyments that matter…

I awoke as the sun rose, surprised that I had actually slept and for a good eight hours.  The wonders of Hollywood and a bed to die for.  For once, I had my doubts that I was up to the job, could I interview an A-lister, maybe I was the wrong woman for this one?  How could I justify the ridiculous earnings of this Actor against those that risked their lives to fight battles that no-one in Hollywood even thought about?  Quite a dilemma but one I simply had to overcome.

‘He has an eye for the women, dress to impress!’ Had been my agents warning.  So no, I didn’t listen, that’s another trait of mine.  Though I do admit to swapping my boots for sandals… the heat was overwhelming.

Hollywood is like nowhere else on earth, surgically structured beautiful people living their dream.  My jeep cruised the fabulous surfaced roads with sweeping corners as I swallowed nervous anticipation.  It felt good, the first emotion I’d felt in god knows how long.  Everything felt more vibrant suddenly, the sun shone brighter, the trees were greener and the properties were most definitely on a larger scale and way more sophisticated.

My destination was a fabulous mediterranean style property with vast columns either side of the double doorway.  With veranda’s encircling every window it was sensational.  Momentarily I wondered if there must be a team of gardeners employed to maintain the fabulous grounds with not a single weed in sight.  Spectacular flowers grew in wild yet perfectly proportioned abandonment.  I was shocked to find my host awaiting my arrival, his bad boy smile encompassing his Lothario image.  Holding out my hand was my first mistake, with eyes glued to my now flushed face he planted a lingering kiss upon it…  (Be still my beating heart!!!)  He’d broken the ice, playing games was one thing I could do and do well!

He led me through his incredible house (my eyes were on stalks, drinking in its impressive interior)and out to a private courtyard with a table set out for lunch.  My Lothario’s grin made me nervously wonder what was on the menu.  Ever the writer, i wasted no time setting out my notepad, pencils and dictaphone, which rather disconcertingly he viewed with obvious humour.  Seating himself, he stretched his denim clad legs towards me, his bare feet albut touching mine.  Not one to back away, I leaned forward resting my chin against my left hand and scrutinised him.  His smile widened.  The interrogation began…

Me:  It’s no secret you have recently gone off the rails dabbling with drugs, why?

Lothario: Love is a drug, its destructive yet incredibly enjoyable, don’t you agree?

Me:  I guess, but hardly the same thing.  Why the need for drugs?

Lothario: People have an image of me, if I was Mr Clean Cut my work would dry up.  It’s the social norm here, name me somebody who isn’t doing them and I’ll prove they’re a liar.

Me: What about the media proclaiming your physical assaults on your partners, surely you can’t justify that?

Lothario: Stories sell.  Who else was in the room at the time? Do you believe everything you read?

Me: It’s very hard to get a straight answer out of you.  Are you telling me your bad boy image is little more than a media invented hype?

Lothario:  Do I need to tell you that?

Touche!  I was certainly getting more than I bargained for.  It was my firm belief that a member of the brat-pack he wasnt, adept at marketing himself, he most certainly was.  Moreover his gaze intensified every time I flinched from a loud bang or my eyes clouded remembering…

Here began several weeks of intense therapy…for me!!! My Lothario had structured a plan involving long hours spent racing around on motorbikes, target shooting, horse riding, you name it we did it.  Each night I would collapse exhausted but rarely haunted by the nightmares.  Instead my body would sink into a welcomed oblivion.  Little by little he drew my demons out from me and in doing so shared his with me.  His depths of despair similar to my own but with differing backgrounds.

Sometimes life doesn’t go to plan.  We were both victims of difficult circumstances that all the money in the world couldn’t heal.  Yet together, the most unlikely of characters, we were rebuilding ourselves.

A defining moment occurred when an electric storm hit Hollywood.  I awoke to a tremendous wind thudding against the walls and windows,  the sky lit by a blaze of lightning the backlash of which was the most terrifying explosions of thunder.  I remember nothing of the cries resonating from me.  I do recall my Lothario coming to my aid, holding me to him as he curled up against me on the bed and stroked my hair.  His words easing their way into my mind, until I slept…

Days later I left Hollywood with a story to die for and a smile on my face that indicated the worst was behind me.  The reason for this blog is to depict that people are seldom what they first appear to be.  This renowned Hollywood bad guy who is seldom out of the media was my guardian angel.  His Lothario background was kept in check the whole time I was with him, well apart from a few indecent proposals.  To name him would be creating injustice to his bad boy image as well as breaking my golden rule of never adding my name to my interviews or stories.  And the truth about his wild ways…well I’ll leave that one to you!  What do you think, Fact or Fiction???