Meet The Team: Pete Atkey, DDRC Operations Director
The story of how one young lad who fancied having a go at diving, eventually became the Operations Director at the Hyperbaric Medical Centre in Plymouth.
Pete retired from DDRC Healthcare in April 2020.
As a boy Pete decided he wanted to become a diver. He’s not sure why. He didn’t actually know anyone who was a diver, he’d just seen it on the TV and thought that it looked like an interesting thing to do. So armed with a few CSEs and an O-level in Geography, he set off into the world to become a diver.
Pete’s first job was as a technician with ICI at their marine research facility in Brixham, Devon. He did his first professional diving qualifications in the mid ’70s and joined the ICI Diving Team.
In 1980 a government scheme helped him to train to become an Offshore Diver. He passed his HSE Part One course in commercial air diving at Fort Bovisand Underwater Centre. He was top of his class, which meant he was employed by Oceaneering International who took the top students and trained them to become saturation divers through advanced training. By 1982 Pete had his first job as a Diving Supervisor.
Diving to the Deepest Depths
Just 6 months after qualifying as an air diver Pete was working as a saturation diver. Pete’s deepest ever dive which went to a depth of approximately 460 feet (141 metres). He was later involved in a job that involved him working in the deepest water that he never actually dived – operating submersible equipment at a depth of 2,250 feet (686 metres) off the cost of the Ivory Coast in Africa.
A world of underwater inspections and oil field maintenance awaited. Pete worked in the North Sea particularly around Norway, in the Mediterranean Sea and off Africa for many of the biggest oil companies. He became skilled in underwater photography and specialist inspection procedures, such as Non Destructive Testing (NDT) survey methods and Magnetic Particle Inspection (MPI). Pete often used an Atmospheric Diving Suit (ADS), which is something in between a suit that you wear and a one man diving capsule that you pilot.
By 1987 he was in Plymouth teaching Royal Navy Clearance Divers on aspects of specialist underwater inspection work. Pete was also involved in the development trials for the Harwel Electro Magnetic crack detection device (later ‘MOSER’ then ‘LIZARD’). With a young family by this time, he decided it was time to stay at home for a while rather than working away for months at sea and became self-employed providing training and consultancy services.
Learning is a lifelong process and so Pete qualified as a Life Support Technician (LST) and did his IMCA Diver Medic Technician (DMT) course. He set up and ran ‘Certification Scheme for Welding and Inspection Personnel’ (CSWIP) 3.1U and 3.2U courses in London and later was appointed to authenticate divers experience under CSWIP and went on to run CSWIP 3.4U courses. He was running CSWIP courses at the highest levels for inspection engineers.
Pete has worked as a Trainer and Training Consultant for numerous companies, including Interdive and The Welding Institute (TWI), as well as operating a professional consultancy in Diving Safety, Underwater Inspection and Corrosion Protection fields.
Then in 2002 Pete joined the Diving Diseases Research Centre (now called DDRC Healthcare) as the Safety Officer for the charity and the Managing Director of DDRC Professional Services, offering specialist medical training courses linked to diving. As a member of the senior management team Pete helped to develop the training side of the business. He has since been appointed to the role of Operations Director for DDRC.
In 2003 Pete joined the European Baromedical Association (EBAss), became a member of the Board in 2004 and is now their Treasurer and President of the EBAss Accreditation Committee.
In a less formal role, Pete Atkey seems to have become the Senior Management Team ‘member of choice’ for saying our collective goodbyes to departing staff from DDRC, as pictured here!
Greatest Career Achievements?
Looking back across his extensive 5 page CV, I asked Pete what did he think were his greatest achievements?
Highlights included implementing new safety management and quality management systems at DDRC that dovetailed neatly together. Pete recalls that when he first joined DDRC the organisation was moving from a very small one when everyone just knew each other and how they did things, to a much larger organisation that required robust systems that various staff could follow confidently. His work subsequently led to the achievement of the comprehensive ISO9001 quality accreditation.
From a personal training and development point of view he is particularly proud of achieving an NVQ Level 4 in Occupational Health and Safety Practice, which enabled him to become a Chartered Member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) in 2012. Looking further back he still feels proud of coming top of the class when he took his HSE Part One commercial diving qualification many years ago.
Pete insists that for much of his career he “just got lucky”. Each time he acquired a new qualification or skill, the perfect job became available and he was able to make great progress through his career with the support of some large companies who provided him with the opportunities. My response is to say that you make your own luck Pete, through your hard work and determination.
Interviewed by Louise Walsh, Communications Support, DDRC Healthcare in February 2019.