Michael Mayes had an inauspicious start to life in the Navy. After leaving his home of Braustone, Leicester in 1968 aged 16 to join the British Royal Navy as an aircraft mechanic, he was often told by his superiors that he was not suitable for service life and should consider leaving . Between there and other aircraft training colleges in Scotland and Wales, he had a few scrapes with the law and was lucky not to be expelled. Then something inside of him clicked, and he began to excel.
Redeployed as a mechanic to the helicopter squadron on HMS Bulwark, he was part of the flotilla which withdrew British forces from Malta in 1972. He rose to Leading Hand, lost 12 kilograms, and in 1978 became a member of the Fleet Air Arm Field Gun Crew, representing them at the Royal Tournament. By 1982, Mayes had completed several stints at sea and had risen to the rank of Petty Officer, he completed supervisor-level aircraft engineer qualifications and was drafted to HMS Royal Arthur for a leadership course. His supervisors noted on his official records that “he was an inspiration to other members.” He was eventually promoted to Chief Petty Officer invited back to Royal Arthur to work as an instructor.
His naval records show initial attainment of Joint Services mountaineering, top rope and abseiling, rock climbing and unit expedition leader qualifications, and an arctic survival course in Norway at -27 degrees centigrade. Deemed physically and mentally fit, he was then invited to attend the British Royal Marine Training School for map reading and surveillance skills. A proud navy man who was not going to be beaten by challenges offered by Bootnecks (aka Royal Marines) he completed the Marine’s infamous Endurance course, Bottom Field Challenges, and Tarzan assault course.
In his spare time he ran three marathon races achieving a best time of 2hrs 55 minutes and returned to HMS Royal Arthur base to break the long standing 5 mile cross country running record.
When pressed on where his elite training took him, Mayes will not speak.
Some training undertaken by individuals is only discussed amongst those doing the training, life in the military should stay in the military, and that is where my career shall stay.
He came to Australia in 1988 for the 75th Anniversary of the Royal Australian Navy, and his heart stayed here. In 1992 he left the Navy and was offered employment as a recruitment advisor for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. However in 1995 a joint decision was made between him and his wife to leave the UK and immigrate, with their young daughter Alice to Australia
You will see Mayes around Circular Quay supporting front line staff as a Team Leader and attending to customer needs.
Do you reckon you are fit? He’s still in reasonable shape and although young at heart, may be a tad slower these days, hence he would rather a round of golf than an arm wrestle or 100 metre sprint.