Wayne Beckett with his son Jason Beckett.

Serving country and community

An overview of the life of BC Community Achievement Award winner Wayne Beckett

An adventurous spirit has steered BC Community Achievement Award winner Wayne Beckett toward the kind of community service not everyone has the courage and composure for. The former Navy leading seaman has been a volunteer fire-fighter for more than 40 years, is a lifetime Royal Canadian Legion member, was a volunteer Coast Guard for 18 years, a Scout Leader, and is a helper or participant in almost every community event in Port Alice.

Growing up in Dunnville, Ontario, he joined the Navy in 1960 at age 18. He helped evacuate Canadians from Cypress during the 1962 conflicts and chased Russian trawlers during the 1963 Cuban missile crisis. He travelled the world by ship from Greenland to Antarctic, along the coasts of North and South America, Africa, Europe and the Mediterranean. He was once washed overboard The Gatineau without a life jacket, off of Newfoundland. What did he do?

“I swam,” he replies matter-of-factly. “The ship behind us picked me up. I was in the water for about 15-20 minutes. It was pretty warm in the Gulf Stream that comes up from Mexcio. About 72 degrees.”

He also spent two weeks on a submarine which he describes as “just like you see in the movies‚“ with the sonar ping day and night, and the ceilings and doorways too low for the 6-foot-three sailor.

He spent a few civilian years working in Ontario, and in 1973 Wayne accepted a job at the former Western Pulp mill in Port Alice where he worked until he retired in 2003.

On Dec. 15, 1973, a major mudslide filled Port Alice streets with boulders, logs and mud up to eight feet deep.

Wayne went out looking to help people out of their homes. Later, volunteer fire department members asked him to join them officially.

He has been Deputy Chief for the past four years, was Captain for 30 years, and has carried a radio or pager 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week for about 20 years.

He’s dealt with quite a few fires and once encountered a backdraft at a house fire that literally blew him and another firefighter off the deck.

“Singed my ears,” he laughs. “They’re still scarred.”

A once-avid boater and fisherman, Wayne spent 18 years on the Port Alice Auxiliary Coast Guard, now known as Royal Canadian Marine Search & Rescue. There weren’t many call-outs, but the practices jumping waves in a 15-foot rigid inflatable boat (RIB) were exciting enough. He tells of one interesting ‘rescue’ he attended when a boat broke down while out fishing and needed a tow home.

The owner was the head of the Port Alice Coast Guard.

A passion for camping and a Scout himself as a boy, he became a Scout leader in 1973, while his wife Cathy led the younger Cubs. Over 12 years, he took them on local camping trips, escorted eight North Island boys to the Canadian Scout Jamboree in PEI in 1977, and 16 Scouts to the BC Jamboree at Douglas Lake Ranch in 1979.

After 42 years with the Royal Canadian Legion Wayne is an honoured Life Member. His role as Sergeant-of-Arms for the past 34 year is to police the meetings, and lead the annual Remembrance Day parade.

At 72, the community man still works a few hours a day maintaining the Port Alice plaza property, and is still called upon to perform security duty at local events, including the upcoming Port Alice 50th Anniversary Reunion.

“I can’t sit around, I gotta move,” he says with a grin.

 

Just Posted

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message: Campbell River RCMP

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Port Hardy RCMP request assistance in tracking down shoplifter

The RCMP are requesting the public’s assistance identifying the female.

More sailings coming to 10 BC Ferries’ routes

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said the sailings were originally cut in 2014

Grieg Seafood awarded for employee wellness initiatives at BC Agri-Food Industry Gala

Grieg Seafood BC’s employee wellness initiatives were recognized at the BC Agri-Food… Continue reading

District of Port Hardy accepts $295,750 bid to replace Don Cruickshank Memorial Arena’s chiller

Council accepted a $295,750 bid by a refrigeration contractor to replace the arena’s chiller.

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Skier dies at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Cause of death for young man has not been released

R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse

R&B star has been accused of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls for years

Most Read