Crossed the Bar


Funeral Details.

It is with so much sadness I report that Surgeon Chief Officer Gareth Hughes-Thomas,  crossed the bar on Monday 24th August 2015 aged 90.

On behalf of the RFA Association I offer our sincere condolences to his daughter Ali and son Vaughan. His wife Aisla pre-deceased him.

He is seen here with his family at the 2014 Durham Reunion.

Gareth’s funeral will be held at St David’s Church, Ffordd Dewi Sant, Nefyn, Gwynedd LL53 6EA (HERE for the website and HERE for a map) on Thursday 3rd September at 13:00 followed by interment at St Mary’s Church, Lon Yr Eglwys, Morfa Nefyn, Gwynedd LL53 6AR (HERE for a map).

Former shipmates and colleagues will be most welcome on completion, and a warm invitation will be extended to join the family for refreshments

By request family flowers only but, and if desired, donations can be made, in Gareth’s name to the RNLI (HERE for their website)


Surgeon Chief Officer Gareth Thomas 1925 – 2015

If you have a remembrance of Gareth please email it to me at and I will post them on this page. I am also looking for photographs of Gareth for this piece and the RFA Association Galery and Archive, If you have one please email it to me



Pat Thompson writes:-

What a delightful man Gareth was. I sailed with him in Sir Geraint in 1994, he was accompanied with his late wife Aisla and they were both such good company. He would gave been 69 then so he would have retired soon thereafter. Latterly we would meet up at various RFA Reunions where we indulged in much lantern sringing (amongst other things that were indulged in as is customary at these do’s). Sadly the 2014 Durham Reunion was our last encounter as his health precluded him attending the 2015 Plymouth bash. I will certainly miss my old friend and shipmate.

Ian (Bear) Thompson writes:-

Gareth was a personal friend, he attending both our wedding and two years ago, despite being frail, my dear Sue’s funeral.

There was something very special about him. At sea he was a dedicated doctor and friend to the ship’s company, and latterly at RFAA Reunions was always the life and soul of the party and usually the last to go to bed!

I could recount many funny stories about him but one I will always remember was being stuck up a large lighting gantry with a film crew, filming RFA Sir Galahad entering the locks at Antwerp. Gareth appeared on deck and noticed me way above the ship. Trying to stop him waving furiously so we could continue filming was like an Ealing comedy. The more I tried to indicate that we were filming and would he kindly return inside, the more he waved back. I hope he is waving back to us all now. Gareth RIP dear shipmate and friend

Ian (Bear)

Mike Nurse writes:-

So very sad to learn of the death of Gareth Thomas – certainly one of the finest doctors RFA ever had and just the most honest, trustworthy and loyal person you could meet. Sailed with him on a number of occasions and remember a Christmas in Loch Long where Aisla took over the celebrations much to the amusement of Ali and Vaughan. He will be missed by so many and for ever be in our hearts.

Dave Gerrard writes:-

My abiding memory of Gareth was during our sojourn in Split in Sir Geraint, where he was a delightful companion on our many excursions ashore.

He was in some distress having received a letter from Personnel stating that now he had reached the age of 70, he could no longer be employed by the RFA.

Was there anything I could do?

Well I tried, writing to say that despite his years, he was a fit as a fiddle and was as good a ship’s doctor as any I had known, but alas it was to no avail and he was obliged to retire again.

It was always a great pleasure to see him again at the Reunions.

Bob Settle writes:-

I only sailed with Gareth once in Resource when we first took up station in Split in 1993. I have fond memories of runs ashore with Gareth, Bill Walker, Barrie Dickinson, Dave Purcell, and PCMD as we explored what was to be Resource’s home port for so many years. Especially memorable were the times we spent drinking coffee with brown milk (brandy) at one of the many cafes on the promenade in the southern harbour. These cafes were under the offices of the Honorary British Consul, Captain Metrovich who often joined us and was a great friend to the RFA. Captain Metrovich’s wife was ill and on long term medication which because of the deteriorating situation in the FY became very scarce. Gareth obtained (from where and how I do not know) medicines which were soon to go out of date and otherwise be destroyed for which the Metrovichs were very grateful. Gareth’s innate common sense and practical attitude shone threw.

He did have a bête noire which came to a head every week on Rounds. He rightly abhorred the unhygienic practice of teaspoons being left in cups or glasses of water at the numerous tea boats around the vessel. After a couple of weeks of the practice being repeat items on the Rounds Report he decided to take proactive action. As we inspected the various tea boats he would add a single drop of TCP to the cup or glass in order to provide at least some level of bio-safety. He did this a couple of times throughout the week until the unintended consequence of his actions became apparent. The consumption of milk rocketed as people tasted their tea or coffee and found that it was unpleasant, blamed the milk and threw away the carton and opened another one.

How he laughed when he found that out, even though the dirty practice continued.

Rest in Peace, Gareth.


Bob Settle

Alan Roach writes:-


Saddened to here of Gareth’s passing. He was a true gentleman with the heart of a lion although short in stature he was a man everyone looked up too! I recall in Tidespring whilst operating in the SW  Approaches with Sea Kings from 826 Sqdn. embarked, we were tasked to assist a yacht in trouble at the north end of the Bay. By the time we were close enough to launch an aircraft the weather had worsened to gale force. The yachts crew of four had been picked up by a German container ship but required urgent medical attention. Gareth aged 60+ immediately volunteered to go in the aircraft and was successfully winched down to a fully loaded container ship in extremely heavy weather and gave his usual excellent service before winching back up and returning to the ship with his customary broad grin and calling for ale!
That was the man and what a man he was RIP old friend.
There is also a fitting tribute to Gareth on the RNLI Website:-

Tributes to Porthdinllaen RNLI stalwart who volunteered for almost six decades

Brian Waters writes:-

There are few RFA folk who will be mourned more than Gareth.

A wonderful man, so full of life and human kindness.

He was with me in OLWEN (or perhaps I was with him!) and the “Welshness” of her name rolled off his tongue with a particular relish which stays with me.

His like will be seen on this planet only rarely.

Dymuna’r teulu ddatgan eu diolch am bob arwydd o gydymdeimlad a charedigrwydd a ddangoswyd
iddynt yn eu profedigaeth. The family wish to express their sincere gratitude for the kindness, sympathy and support which has been
extended to them in their bereavement.
Derbynnir rhoddion er cof am Dr. Thomas yn
Ddiolchgar tuag at Ymchwil Cancr Brydain a Gronfa Bad Achub Porthdinllaen
trwy law G.D.Roberts a’i Fab, Cyfarwyddwyr Angladdau,
Capel Gorffwys, Pwllheli, Gwynedd. LL53 5RE
8: 01758 701107 Donations in memory of Dr. Thomas will be gratefully
received in aid of the Cancer Research UK and The Porthdinllaen R.N.L.I Station
per G. D. Roberts & Son, Funeral Directors,
Chapel of Rest, Pwllheli, Gwynedd. LL53 SRE
Phone: 01758 701107 Dr. Gareth Thomas’ family would like to express their profound thanks to the following people, who have helped and given
guidance over recent weeks: Julie and Charles Caddick, Doctor and Staff at Ty Doctor, Nefyn,
Nefyn District Nurses, Palliative Care Team & Hospice at Home.
An invitation extends to join the Family for refreshments at the
Nanhoron Arms Hotel after the interment.

From the RNLI Website. Alison received the posthumous award in Liverpool, today. DMG.

Honorary Life


Dr Gareth Hughes-Thomas

Porthdinllaen Lifeboat Station

Gareth became involved with the RNLI at Porthdinllaen in 1956,

having returned to the area after working at sea as a doctor.

He has served his community both as a GP and as Lifeboat Medical

Adviser. His commitment to the station has not been limited to

medical matters; prior to his retirement as Lifeboat Medical Adviser,

he was elected and continues as Lifeboat Station (now Lifeboat

Management Group) Chairman, assisting the station with wise

counsel delivered with good humour and panache.