Oak Bay volunteer honoured by Navy

While most people were ringing in 2013, Rebecca Charlesworth was scouring the dark waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

While most people were ringing in 2013 with friends and family, Rebecca Charlesworth was scouring the dark waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Charlesworth and her fellow Oak Bay Search and Rescue Society volunteers received a call of a red flare, a universal beacon of distress on the seas. The sighting was later deemed to be a false alarm.

“We spent New Years searching for someone who wasn’t there,” said the Oak Bay resident.

It’s just one of many hats tirelessly worn by Master Seaman Charlesworth of the Naval Reserves, who was recently recognized by the Royal Canadian Navy for consistently going above and beyond the call of duty.

On Jan. 16, Charlesworth was awarded the Canadian Navy Centennial Award, an honour given annually to only one non-commissioned member in the country.

Vice-Admiral Paul Maddison, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, presented Charlesworth with the award at HMCS Malahat in Victoria Jan. 16.

“Master Seaman Charlesworth consistently displays a deep interest in promoting the military at the grass roots level to those within her community and inexhaustibly strives to improve the experiences of her shipmates,” Maddison said.

“She has set the bar very high indeed for every sailor in our navy.”

In addition to her weekly duties at HMCS Malahat, Charlesworth works as an oiler/deckhand at the Canadian Dockyard. She also volunteers with local cadet corps and the Langford Navy League, where she instills in young cadets the same enthusiasm she discovered at a young age.

“I partially grew up on a sailboat,” she said. “I joined cadets and fell in love with the concept of the military and their passions, beliefs and work ethic.”

Through HMCS Malahat, she has completed two major domestic deployments and served as an area supervisor at NATO’s Kandahar base in Afghanistan.

“One of the main reasons for going over was to give the main guys a break, who were going over repeatedly on back-to-back tours,” she said. “It took me three years and one month of requesting.”

As part of the award, $1,500 will be donated in Charlesworth’s name to the Nanaimo branch of the Navy League of Canada, and an additional $1,500 will be given to the Military Family Resource Centre in Esquimalt.