A pair of Whitby sailors, one at the start of her career, have met up by chance while serving on a ship which is patrolling the world.
Cadet Emma Hopps (25) and Captain Steve Donkersley (53) are both serving in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Diligence, which provides repair and maintenance support worldwide to the Royal Navy. The duo are undergoing training with the Royal Navy in Plymouth, specifically for their next deployment abroad in May.
Cdt Hopps attended Whitby Community College before joining the RFA in 2010. She is studying at Fleetwood Nautical College while training as a deck officer onboard RFA Diligence.
She said: “I have always been keen on sailing and I worked for the Ocean Youth Trust as a teenager and sailed on their yacht James Cook. I love being at sea and I like the flexibility offered by the RFA. One of the initial difficulties to overcome was missing home, but you soon adapt and now I enjoy all the challenges I experience.”
Although only a trainee, Emma has already travelled to the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean. She has also represented the support tanker and cargo ship RFA Orangeleaf at a reception at Downing Street with the Prime Minister on the ship’s return from Libya in 2011, where the ship was supporting the naval task group. The task group enforced a no-fly zone and a shipping blockade.
Cdt Hopps’ parents Robin and Barbara live near Aislaby, with her brother William.
Her commanding officer is Cpt Donkersley, who attended Whitby School, before later joining Turnbull Scott, originally based in Whitby. He worked in the Merchant Navy before joining the RFA in 1986. In a long and varied career Steve has sailed worldwide and visited Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the Caribbean and Europe. He admitted his intention was to only join for one trip, but enjoyed it so much he stayed.
He still lives in Whitby with his wife Katy and said: “My job is never routine, there is always a different challenge. You can spend 45 days at sea at a time and as a captain I change ship every three years, which adds to the new challenges faced.”