The RNLI saves lives at sea.

Chris Hawes

Picture of Chris Hawes.

Although Chris’s health had been poor for the last year or so, his death was sudden and has come as a tremendous shock to us all. We would like to encourage those of you who have memories of him to take the time to recount a personal story or write a short tribute using the link on this page. Nothing fancy is required!

Chris was born on the south coast of England, where his father worked for the Westminster Bank. During the War it became too dangerous to stay and Chris was evacuated to Yorkshire. Sadly, his father died when Chris was only twelve, and he was subsequently granted a place at a boarding school where he finished his education.

He had a lifelong fascination with aeroplanes and the sea. In his late teens he signed up for a Short Service Commission in the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm and became a pilot. He started flying Harvards in Florida with US Navy pilots and, on return to the UK, flew Vampires and Seahawks. In recent years he would sometimes recount hair-raising stories of learning to fly on and off aircraft carriers, which in those days was quite a dodgy business. It was not that unusual for pilots to end up in the water.

While in the Navy, Chris met and subsequently married his wife Anne. After his commission ended, he retrained as an Air Traffic Controller and was posted north to Prestwick, in sunny Scotland, where they lived – and where we three children grew up – for 25 years. Eventually the family returned south and settled in Surrey where Chris continued to work in Air Traffic Control until his retirement.

Chris had a wide range of interests. He bought his first yacht, ‘Brandysnap’, in 1975, sailing her on the Firth of Clyde, where he regularly competed in Wednesday night races. It was there that we all learned to sail, gritting our teeth against the cold and wet of the Scottish Coast. He and younger son, Nick, sailed his second yacht, ‘Kestrel of Kingswear’, down to Southampton after Chris and Anne moved to Surrey, and it was in Southampton that ‘Kestrel’, and latterly ‘Siara’ were berthed. Anne and Chris have spent many years now, sailing around the Solent and South Coast and have built up a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. Favourite memories include ice creams at Lymington, barbeques on the beach at Newtown, lunch at the Folly Inn and watching people make a mess of berthing in Yarmouth.

Chris and Anne also continued a longstanding family gardening tradition, buying the piece of land adjacent to their property, and managing to create a beautiful garden out of what was initially a Victorian rubbish dump. They did all the work themselves, with Chris managing to figure out how to do the practical stuff, as he always did. The garden is a haven for birds, and this sparked an interest in birdwatching. About five years ago they combined the birds and sailing, signing up for a holiday in the Azores aboard the yacht ‘Silurian’. The photograph above, of Chris happily at the wheel, was taken on that holiday.

Both Anne and Chris joined a gym very early on and chose one that had a very strong social aspect. Chris joined the running group, competing in several 10k runs and triathlons and did both the London to Brighton and the London to Cambridge bike rides. He had always been very active and apart from the sailing, was a keen walker and, for a time, archer. In the early seventies he belonged to the Ancient Society of Kilwinning Archers and one year won the prestigious ‘Kilwinning Arrow’, a prize which has been in existence since 1483. He can be seen in the photo above, holding the trophy and looking very pleased!

Since his death, several people have commented on how kind Chris was. He was also generous and loving and was always willing to help out if anyone needed it. He had his ‘grumpy old geezer’ moments too, but don’t we all!

We have so many fond memories:- fishing expeditions on ‘Brandysnap’ which ended up with more mackerel than the freezer could cope with; camping trips to Northumberland and Devon in a huge cotton tent which took up half the car; and being roped into treading grapes for a Greek hotelier, five mins after arriving on Paros. Anne and Chris spent countless holidays in Greece, initially family sailing holidays - how wonderful it was to be soaked while changing sails on the foredeck and be warm! – and later, walking holidays with Anne, exploring all the unknown little islands, crisscrossed with donkey tracks. Greece became, and will remain, a very special place for us.

The RNLI is a charity which Chris has supported for years, although, fortunately, he never had to call upon its services! If you would like to make a donation in his name, any amount, large or small, will be put to good use.

Thank you

Anne, Jonathan, Caroline and Nicholas

Added by: Caroline Hawes on 13 October 2008.

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Additional images

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Picture of Chris Hawes.
Picture of Chris Hawes.
Picture of Chris Hawes.

Charity information


The RNLI is a charity that provides a 24-hour lifesaving service around the UK and Republic of Ireland.

As a charity, the RNLI relies on your support to carry on saving lives at sea.

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