From being born into poverty in Ghana, to running an aerospace company in Haverfordwest. Along the way you take an OBE for Aviation Services.
This is not the premise of a fancy Hollywood movie, but the real life story of Patricia Mawuli Porter OBE.
Patricia runs the Metal Seagulls aviation company with her husband Johnathan at Haverfordwest Airfield.
She was recently awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Her Majesty The Queen.
“I was very quiet,” Patricia said when she found out. “It wasn’t until my husband started jumping for joy and saying it was a big deal.”
Patricia had no idea she had been put forward for the honour, and was told that she had been called out of the blue by Ghana’s transport minister as part of the vetting process.
Born into a rural farming family in the Volta region of Ghana, there was no electricity, running water, telephone or internet where Patricia grew up.
In 2007, after finishing the equivalent of sixth grade, Patricia spotted a light aircraft flying near where she was chopping firewood and followed it to a nearby bush airfield.
There she offered to work for free.
As a hardworking, detail-oriented worker, she was quickly put on the payroll and progressed to work on the engineering team – build and maintain light aircraft. Patricia then became a flight instructor.
In 2012 Patricia married Jonathan Porter, a British national, and together they managed the airfield operations in Ghana.
In 2015 the couple moved to the UK and started their own aviation company Metal Seagulls Ltd.
Since arriving in the UK, Patricia has become a well-known and respected figure in the UK light aviation sector and in 2019 she was selected as an Aviation Ambassador for the UK Department of Transport, where she was held this position for two years.
The first thing we asked Patricia was: why airplanes?
“Once I planned to build airplanes, it became a part of me,” Patricia said.
“A plane is like a baby. You don’t just make them and put them in the corner of the room, they become part of the family.
“Once you’ve crafted one plane, you have the benefit of crafting another. Then the last thing on your mind when you go to bed is how am I going to upgrade my plane.
Patricia’s determination is boundless, coming from a shack without running water, to being part of a high-tech industry. She says nothing fazed her.
“I am one of those people who do something and want to move on. For me, there is no limit provided you get started.
Patricia received a special Pembrokeshire award, receiving a hand-carved love spoon to celebrate Pembrokeshire’s return as an administrative authority in 1996 after the failure of ‘Dyfed’.
Patricia summed up Pembrokeshire in two words.
“Simply beautiful. I think Pembrokeshire is a place where people of all races are welcome and call home.
Among those present when Patricia received her award were airport manager Tara Wroblewska, county councilor Tim Evans and former county council chairman Peter Stock.
Cllr Evans pointed out that it is businesses like this that could help bring highly skilled industry to rural areas like Pembrokeshire.
“Having an aerospace business in this part of Wales is just amazing,” said Cllr Evans. “Having them in this facility and the plans they have for the future is fantastic.”
Mr Stock said businesses like this put Pembrokeshire on the map.
“We hear about Cardiff and Swansea, they always make the headlines. What it does for us now is put the name Haverfordwest on the front page. I think that’s first class.
Patricia’s highest praise came from her husband who said that no matter what she did, Patricia was always humble.
“When she became the first woman to be factory trained on ULPower Aero engines, she remained the same person. When she became the first black female aircraft inspector for the Light Aircraft Association, she remained the same When she became the first black female aircraft inspector for the British Microlight Aircraft Association, she remained the same person. She still walks in and sweeps the floor and washes the planes.
“I am absolutely in awe of my wife.”
As Patricia said, she succeeds and moves on. No matter how many awards she receives, she has a new goal on the horizon, whether it’s building Metal Seagulls or raising her daughter.
One of the responsibilities now entrusted to Patricia is to be an ambassador for young women in Pembrokeshire who want to get involved in an industry that can seem dominated by men. It’s no surprise that she’s also unfazed.
“Maybe I can help change that perception. We can break through this barrier and this status quo.
“In short, what I want to say to young people is that what I have found in the difference between success and failure is hard work. You can only achieve something if you go there. put your mind.