Born in Dorchester in 1949, Barry Bryant joined the Royal Navy in 1968 after deciding that the Fleet Air Arm looked a lot more fun than university. After several years flying as an Observer in anti-submarine helicopters from various ships, he became one of the first aviators to complete the Principal Warfare Officers’ course before returning to aviation as a Lynx Flight Commander in HMS BRILLIANT during the Falklands conflict, during which he was Mentioned in Despatches.
After a narrow escape from a Lynx ditching in 1983 he became First Lieutenant of HMS ANDROMEDA before being promoted Commander in 1986 and taking command of HMS HERMIONE and then HMS JUPITER. The inevitable spell in MOD running officers’ training policy was followed by a frenetic two years as Commander Sea Training at Portland. There were brief spells at Northwood and in First Sea Lord’s office, either side of promotion to Captain in 1992, before a further two years in MOD as an Assistant Director in the Defence Systems area.
In 1995 he escaped to Antarctica for two glorious seasons in command of HMS ENDURANCE, surely one of the best sea jobs in the Navy with almost complete independence in the wilds of the South Atlantic. Barry’s final four years in the Service were spent as the Director of Naval Service Conditions and of the Naval Personal and Family Service, covering almost every aspect of the personnel spectrum from pay to welfare, and education to equal opportunities. One of the most satisfy¬ing areas was the control of in-Service charities including the Sailors’ Fund and the Fleet Amenities Fund, and the consequent close liaison with the prime ex-¬Service charity areas. It was therefore a happy coincidence that he was appointed as the Director General of Seafarers UK [the former Kings George’s Fund for Sailors] taking office in May 2002 and retiring in July 2019.
Barry lives in East Sussex with wife Tracy, a former WRNS Fleet Analyst and their two teenage children. He takes great pleasure in being the President of both the Chatham Naval Officers’ Association and the Tunbridge Wells Sea Cadet Unit, and was appointed a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in December 2010 by Her Majesty The Queen.