Princess Anne in Sunderland today to bestow a Royal honour on a vital heritage group
Proud and privileged – that’s the officials at a Sunderland group which received a Royal honour from Princess Anne today.
The Princess Royal came to Wearside today to bestow a very special award on Sunderland Maritime Heritage, the group which has done so much to preserve the city’s maritime heritage.
Volunteers at the 20-year-old have painstakingly restored the Dunkirk Little Ship Willdora. It was one of around 850 private boats which sailed from England across the Channel to help rescue more than 336,000 British and French troops who were trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk in the Second World War.
The popular society also has a museum and information centre which promotes Sunderland’s historic links to the sea.
Today, its ‘vital role’ was acknowledged when the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service was presented by The Princess Royal.
Princess Anne went on a tour of the heritage centre before she presented the award to Christopher Carolan, Chairman of Sunderland Maritime Heritage as the charity’s volunteers, trustees and guests looked on.
Mr Carolan thanked everyone who has supported the group and then paid tribute to the team of tireless volunteers.
He said: “It was a great privilege to receive this award today from Her Royal Highness. We are all very proud that we have been given this award and would like to thank those who have supported us with grants, donations and sponsorship and enabled us to continue our charitable work.
"But primarily, this award would not have been possible without the dedication of our volunteers and their commitment to preserving the history of ship building in Sunderland in so many ways and I thank them most heartily for this.”
SMH, a registered charity, is entirely self-funded. It painstakingly restores, maintains and exhibits historic vessels and artefacts associated with shipbuilding and repair on the River Wear. It is the only charity of its kind in the area.
The Princess Royal was accompanied on the visit by Mrs Susan Winfield (Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Tyne & Wear), Councillor Harry Trueman (Mayor of Sunderland City Council), Farooq Hakim (High Sheriff of Tyne & Wear), Jeff Brown, (Deputy Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear).
SMH’s guests on the day included the society’s Friend Frank Nicholson who nominated the group for Royal honour.
Other SMH guests on the day included Thomas Rowe, Honorary Vice President, Sunderland Maritime Heritage; Ralph Saelzer, Managing Director, Liebherr-Sunderland Works, and the daughters of Fred Gooch (the man who the society’s museum is named after because of his mastery at model making) Catherine Armstrong, and Christine Bowens.
The Lord-Lieutenant, Susan Winfield, said: “I am delighted that Sunderland Maritime Heritage has been honoured with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. It is truly well deserved for their dedicated work preserving and promoting maritime heritage in Sunderland.”
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK, it aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities.
It was created in 2002 to celebrate The Queen’s Golden Jubilee.