Firstly – apologies to our ardent readers who have wondered why things have been so quiet on the News front, and the reasons are-
I have been away on holiday (great), we have had serious family health issues (not so great), problems have been experienced with the Website (annoying), my PC ‘died’ on me (complete pain in the backside). The good news is that things are back to normal (hopefully!)
Undoubtedly the big news, as reported in our June bulletin and on Facebook, was that we have been honoured by Her Majesty with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, this being the highest honour that can be bestowed upon a Voluntary Group and is the equivalent of an MBE. As with all such Royal Honours, we were told of the award some time before the official announcement, but were sworn to secrecy. We were immensely proud and delighted by the news, but just about managed to keep it to ourselves. We had been aware for some time that we had been nominated, and when we were advised that an assessment would be conducted by Captain Hugh Daglish LVO JP DL, former Royal Navy Commander of HM Yacht Britannia and His Honour Judge John Roberts DL on behalf of Her Majesty, we knew that matters were getting serious. I have to admit to feeling a little nervous when these two eminent gentle arrived on the quay for a conducted tour of the vessel and a discussion on the history and activities of our group, but I need not have been; they took a real interest and were extremely complimentary on our achievements. We must have done something right as we now have the privilege of being the only Historic Vessel Group to be honoured in this way. To accompany the honour we received two invitations to attend the Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, the Ship’s Mate Paul Kirkbride and the Chief Engineer Chris Heyes, who were two of the original protagonists in the saving of the vessel in 1971, attending on behalf of the Society. The actual award will be presented to the Society on behalf of Her Majesty by the Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside on 7th August at the vessel’s mooring in Sandon Dock.
More good news to report – We have also been awarded a grant of £5000 from the Pilgrim Trust towards the replacement of the vessels wheelhouse which has seen better days. An order has now been placed with Moorside Joinery for the manufacture of the structure.
Despite the obvious euphoria of the Queen’s award, and also as a consequence of it, we have had to re-plan our summer as we are determined to have Kerne looking at her very best for the award ceremony; scaling, painting, polishing and general tidying up has been the order of the day (or should I say month). We did however have a very successful weekend in Albert Dock for Steam on the Dock, albeit that as a consequence of our boiler tube problem we had to be towed to the venue by the WWII veteran tug Seaport Alpha. Well over a thousand visitors ventured aboard over the weekend, with many more taking the opportunity to view her and talk to the crew from the quay. We also attended the Lymm Historic Transport Day on 24th June with our Exhibition Stand, which once again attracted a large number of visitors.
As regards actual ‘work’ aboard, in the Aft Cabin a new grate has been fitted to the galley stove, the automatic pump to the bilge has been replaced, and work continues at our Davyhulme workshop on new units, sink and plumbing to this cabin. In the Forward Cabin, the seatbacks have been removed for re-upholstering, but the focus remains on having Kerne looking at her best for 7th August!