National Historic Ships UK’s annual awards ceremony is a celebration of maritime heritage around UK coasts, lakes, and rivers. It encourages people of all ages and backgrounds to engage with static and operational historic vessels through photography, volunteering, conservation, online activities and skills-based training.

The winners of National Historic Ships UK’s 2021 Photography Competition, Marsh Volunteer, Flagship and Excellence in Maritime Conservation Awards have been revealed along with the announcement of five new Shipshape Network Hubs during a virtual Awards Ceremony.

The event was filmed at Boathouse 4 in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and featured special guest presenters lecturer, writer and broadcaster Paul Atterbury and historian Sam Willis.

The accolade of Photographer of the Year 2021 went to Fraser Gray after his image Thames Sailing Barges was chosen from hundreds of entries to scoop the winning prize of £500 vouchers of the winner’s choice, and a classic smock.

Commenting on the winning image, judge Simon Stephens said: “This picture demonstrates the lovely artistic balance of the sailing and moored Thames barges in silhouette against the striking light conditions with shimmering reflections on the estuary waters.”

The winner of the Classic Boat category went to Sandy Miller for his image Ethel Alice & Besom Fleet. Moment of beauty.

The competition was strong with outstanding submissions from a wide range of entrants. The judging panel was delighted to see both professional and amateur photographers represented, although to ensure fairness these details are not disclosed when selecting the best photographs.

The 2021 Photography Competition was supported by Adlard Coles, Axis 12, Beckett Rankine, IBTC Lowestoft, Park Lane Press, Yarmouth Oilskins, Winter & Co and Classic Boat magazine.  The venue for the Awards Ceremony was provided courtesy of the Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust.

Now in their eleventh year, the Marsh Volunteer Awards recognise outstanding volunteers in the conservation or operation of historic vessels in the UK.

The Individual Marsh Volunteer Award was given to Tim Jepson of the Thames Sailing Barge Trust in Essex. Tim has played an active part in the organisation since 1975, working on two historic vessels owned by the Trust.

Both as a volunteer skipper and working group leader, he has contributed a huge amount of time and energy on a wide variety of tasks, most recently replacing rotten deck timbers, making a new saddle chock from scratch, re-rigging, and fitting a new diesel tank for the vessel’s engine.

The Marsh Group Volunteer Award was given to two winners this year. Firstly, to the crew of The Daniel Adamson Preservation Society of Liverpool which recognised the value of volunteering in combatting isolation and developing wellbeing, and which delivers a bespoke learning experience for schools.

The second Group Award went to the volunteers and trustees of the Steamship Shieldhall Charity in Southampton who worked tirelessly during Covid-19 to make their organisation more resilient. This included upgrades to their website resulting in an increase in membership, creation of a 50/50 lottery scheme raising £6,000 in revenue and their new online safety training course for volunteer crew.

The Shipshape Volunteer Award was given to the Ship Engineers of The Steam Tug Kerne Preservation Society in Merseyside for their preservation of Kerne. The volunteer team have contributed over 10,000 hours during a three-year period to research, devise and complete the work required to keep the vessel operational.

This included undertaking the very difficult task of replacing all 80 screwed stay tubes on a coal fired boiler using only traditional skills and no modern welding repair methods.

A Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Chris Heyes of The Steam Tug Kerne Preservation Society for his 50 years of committed volunteering. Chris was a founding member of the Preservation Society in 1971 and has continued to maintain Kerne to keep the historic tug steaming for the public.

Recipient of the Excellence in Maritime Conservation Award is the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) for their conservation of LCT 7074. Guided by Conserving Historic Vessels, the significance of the ship was at the centre of their decision to preserve the vessel’s fabric as it was in June 1944.

Using a formal Conservation Management Plan, LCT 7074 has been raised, transported to Portsmouth, conserved, interpreted and opened to the public in a new, purpose-built graving dock and canopy structure in Southsea, Hampshire.

This year, as the country reopened, historic vessels welcomed the public back on board.  Digital skills learned in lockdown were retained, and there was a resurgence of in-person events and activities. National Historic Ships UK therefore awarded a Virtual, Static and Operational Flagship for the first time.

NHS-UK’s Flagships actively promote the role of NHS-UK and each Flagship receives a broad pennant to fly as ambassadors for the UK’s maritime heritage sector.

The 2021 Operational Flagship was awarded to Breda – Yacht: in recognition of her online presence, local Thames cruising programme and planned attendance at summer events including the Henley Traditional Boat Festival.

The 2021 Static Flagship was awarded to Tall Ship Glenlee – Barque: in recognition of her public outreach and engagement activities, planned involvement in events celebrating and promoting the city of Glasgow – including the ‘summer of play’ – and her visual presence as a backdrop to COP 26.

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