Ryder Cup honour for Royal Navy sailor

A Royal Navy sailor from Helensburgh has told of his pride after he was selected to lower one of the flags, officially drawing the Ryder Cup competition to a close.

Michael (on the left) is pictured with his colleagues from the RAF and Army, together with the Ryder Cup.
Michael (on the left) is pictured with his colleagues from the RAF and Army, together with the Ryder Cup.

Leading Hand Michael Kaja, 35, is part of the engineering team for the weapons handling systems on board the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, and was part of a small and select military contingent involved in ceremonial aspects of the world-famous event.

The former Colgrain Primary School and Hermitage Academy student, joined colleagues from both the Army and RAF to undertake the important official duties at Gleneagles.

A keen golf fan, Michael was delighted to be selected and the highlight came when he and his colleagues were able to get hands-on with the Ryder Cup itself.

Currently based at Rosyth while the carrier continues with her build and fitting out, Michael said: “What an amazing experience this was. I was very happy to be chosen to go to the Ryder Cup to be part of our ceremonial team.

“And as a keen, but rubbish, golfer I couldn’t wait to see just how bad I was compared to the pros.

“The atmosphere was fantastic and being allowed to actually hold the trophy was quite amazing. A really unforgettable experience.”

Michael, married to Charlotte-Mary and now living in Bo’ness, has served on board HM ships Birmingham, York, Kent, Quorn and Hurworth, before joining HMS Queen Elizabeth last year.

He has travelled widely during his career, including France, Holland, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Turkey, Cyprus, India, England, Ireland, Gibraltar, Germany, Austria, Greece, Malta, Italy and Spain.

Michael was deployed on HMS York while troops were going into Afghanistan and the ship was sailing off Yemen picking up Taliban trying to leave in skiffs, and also in the Gulf escorting American troop carriers in and providing area air defence during the Iraq War.

He frequently returns to Helensburgh to visit his mum, stepfather and best friend, who all still live in the town.