Moelfre RNLI Lifeboat , Dedicated Launcher and Restorer

by Sue Beesley

Read how a former Royal Marine volunteers with Moelfre Lifeboat on Anglesey, overcame a massive health challenge and now also runs a high profile restoration business.

Martin Ashworth’s 10 years in the Royal Marines are what gave him the strength and determination to lead a normal life again after 3 operations on his spine left him confined to a wheelchair.

His story is one of complete dogged determination and apart from his work as a volunteer for Moelfre RNLI Lifeboat, operates a thriving, countrywide renowned business restoring antique leather, producing bespoke leather goods and reconditioning and repairing leather goods from his business in Marianglas.

Recovering from his spinal surgery and having moved to Moelfre over 10 years ago, he enrolled as a helper on the slip. He was precluded from boat duty because of his physical health and worked his way up the ranks to the position of Head Launcher 5 years ago.

This gave him overall responsibility for the launching and recovery of the boat when called out “on a shout”. The job is not entirely in his hands, it is down to the good teamwork overseen by Martin which ensures that “everybody is in the right place at the right time”.

“There is a set procedure which needs 100% implementation.” When there’s a 26 ton lifeboat involved, this isn’t difficult to believe! The dangers are plain to see.

Having launched the boat, the slip is then set up for recovery of the boat once the incident has been attended and Martin maintains constant radio contact with the lifeboat, to ascertain an ETA.

Martin’s other responsibility is as the Deputy Launching Authority which necessitates liaison with Holyhead Coastguard about the incident details, keeping detailed records of the incident and ensuring that the Coxswain is kept fully aware of all the circumstances surrounding the call-out.

Martin is on constant call-out whilst at work in his leather workshop based in the old bakery in Marianglas. With the backup and support of other lifeboat personnel he has built up a unique and much sought after business which revolves largely around the restoration of antique leather.

It is testament to his abilities that his customers entrust him with irreplaceable items of such personal value, whether it be a 1945 spitfire flying jacket or a doctor’s bag from the 1850’s.

His wall abounds with testimonials from delighted customers, including Royalty and celebrities. He is passionate about his craft and it is wonderful to see items which would have been consigned to the attic, being lovingly and meticulously restored not to their original state, but sympathetically and authentically renovated, adopting appropriate ageing techniques.

Says Martin, “some of my methods of ageing are a little unconventional, to say the least”.

He possesses an age old skill which requires countless years dedication and attention to detail. His interest in leather began a long time ago with saddle-work in America where he learnt many of the formative and basic skills of his craft.

Otherwise he has enhanced his skills by trial and error and watching other skilled masters of the craft working at their trade.

Martin regards each job as an individual challenge and he promotes interest in his work by providing photographs depicting the restoration procedure for his customers.

This has sparked positive feedback and interest from customers who are keen to know how their particular article has been transformed. As a result, Martin is in process of putting a webcam in place in his workshop to spread the word further afield.

It’s not difficult to see how somebody so dedicated and meticulous by nature is suited to the volunteering roles with Moelfre RNLI Lifeboat which Martin regards as “all in a day’s work”.

Sue Beesley

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