August marked the awarding of The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service which turned out to be all we had hoped it would be and more.
Cleaning, painting and general sprucing-up during the first week of the month had the vessel looking very smart indeed for the award ceremony on the 7th August, but ahead of the event itself we had a marquee to erect, tables, banners and bunting to be put in place, food and celebratory bubbly to be arranged, and regional TV and radio interviews to be recorded.
Monday 6th started early as Dave Guest, BBC North West’s Senior Reporter arrived with his cameraman on the quay to film a piece for the evening news. Over the next two hours Paul Kirkbride, myself and Chris Heyes were interviewed and filmed in the Wheelhouse, Boiler Room and Engine Room, shots were taken around the vessel, and information gathered for the commentary. This was duly broadcast during the North West Tonight, albeit that the two hours was condensed down to three minutes and Roger Johnson in the introduction pronounced ‘Kerne’ as ‘Kee-ern-ee’. That said, we had plenty of good feedback and responses to the piece. No sooner had we finished with the TV, than BBC Radio Merseyside’s Claire Minter arrived and recorded an interview with Paul that was broadcast on the Tuesday morning.
The crew arrived before noon on 7th and delivered the catering and made final preparations for the big day. United Utilities had very kindly offered to provide car-parking at the Liverpool Wastewater Treatment Works from where our volunteers (suitably dressed in ‘Kerne’ shirts) and guests were conveyed in a classic ex-Liverpool bus to the quayside for the ceremonial proceedings. The Queen’s official representatives were Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of Merseyside Mr Mark Blundell, Deputy Lieutenant Sir Mark Hedley DL and Lieutenant Colonel Sean McEvoy BEM. The civic party was The Right Worshipful, The Lord Mayor of Liverpool Councillor Christine Banks. After official introductions and a visit aboard Kerne there followed official speeches including a welcoming address, a description of the award process and assessment, the presentation of the Award and signed Certificate of Authority. Obligatory photographs followed and a speech of thanks on behalf of the volunteers before all present enjoyed drinks and food in the marquee in a very relaxed and convivial atmosphere despite the somewhat cold and blustery conditions..
The Society are very honoured to receive this Award in recognition of the 47 years the group has preserved and operated the vessel, particularly as it is the first time the Queen has recognised a voluntary vessel preservation group in this way. Following the departure of the dignitaries and guests, the remaining crew were transported in the classic bus to The Lion Tavern for post event drinks. Unsurprisingly, this part of the proceedings lasted several hours! Even less surprisingly, the dismantling and clearing-up operation the following day was performed despite a number of very thick heads.
Work aboard had taken second stage to the Award Ceremony, but we are now on with jobs including the cleaning and cement washing of the aft peak tank and preparatory work on the Aft Cabin/Galley improvements. In the Boiler Room work has commenced on the removal of the 60 stay tubes, a job which will likely take us into next year. Normality service has returned!.