Helicopter engineer Matt's camera skills rewarded

Talented helicopter engineer Matt Godfrey has been singled out for his efforts aboard HMS Montrose in the Gulf.

But it's his skill - and enthusiasm - with the camera which particularly impressed his seniors during a four-month tour of duty aboard the Bahrain-based frigate.

On his first deployment, Matt’s day job is to maintain the frigate’s Wildcat for surveillance, support and, if necessary, combat missions, as one of the members of the ship's flight - a team of engineers, technicians, aviation experts and aircrew from 815 Naval Air Squadron, based at RNAS Yeovilton.

Throughout his time in the Gulf, the 28-year-old from Torquay also volunteered as the ship’s photographer, providing imagery for everything required by the Type 23’s team from operational reports through to media releases, newsletters and department photographs.

I found myself photographing everything from gunnery exercises to marine life, as well as working closely with the warfare department, often tasked with photographing ships and aircraft for intelligence purposes.

AET Matt Godfrey, 815 NAS

“Being able to turn what I considered a hobby into something of great use to not only public relations but also an operational capability is something I did not think I would ever be able to do," said Matt, an air engineering technician.

“I always enjoy a challenge. The role is usually performed by a serving Royal Navy photographer, however the difficulties that 2020 has provided us with also meant that the ship was limited to take certain personnel. 

“I was able to conduct my duties without it impacting my day job and found myself photographing everything from gunnery exercises to marine life, as well as working closely with the warfare department, often tasked with photographing ships and aircraft for intelligence purposes.”

His ‘double life’ was recognised by 815’s Commanding Officer Commander Russ Clark who recommended the junior rating for a Herbert Lott award “not only for his contribution to photographic services on operations but specifically for his inspired decision to produce a virtual music festival for his 200 shipmates, boosting morale and giving everyone a highlight in challenging times.”

Issued since 1930, the Herbert Lott award initially rewarded sailors who'd significantly improved the way in which the Naval and Marines Forces operate. Now administered by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, it's a financial reward to naval personnel who have especially stood out for their efforts.