Medway Queen Centenary celebrations 2024

The Medway Queen Centenary events kicked off on Sunday 21 April 2024 with a memorial service in Rochester Cathedral, for people with family connections to the ship at all stages in her career, to remember all those involved who are no longer with us. This was well attended, and members of the cathedral’s regular congregation were joined by some 200 invitees representing past crew, passengers and MQPS.

The service was led by the Dean of Rochester, The Very Reverend Philip Hesketh AKC DL. Also in attendance was a remaining Dunkirk veteran, Ron Nabarro, who was rescued by HMS Medway Queen in June 1940, and descendants of other evacuated personnel and the men who saved them.

Notable were David Mathias whose father was drafted into the crew for Operation Dynamo and Alan Cook whose Grandfather was CO of HMS Medway Queen at Dunkirk. Medway Queen President, the Rt Hon Lord West of Spithead GCB DSC, was there, as were the High Sheriff of Kent (Dr Gillian Fargher), the Mayor of Medway (Cllr Nina Gurung), and her husband (Taikaji Gurung), the Leader of Medway Council (Vince Maple), the Reverend. Canon Chris Dench and Dr Sue Plummer (Director of Medway Campus, Canterbury Christ Church University).

Medway Queen Centenary 2024
Admiral Lord West with Robin and Alan Cook, and Nina and Taikaji Gurung.

Canon Chris Dench is Canon for Worship and Spirituality at Rochester Cathedral and was a great help in organising the service. Readings were given by Alan Cook and by Brigadier (retd) Trevor Minter OBE DL, Vice Lord Lieutenant of Kent. Two Deputy Lieutenants of Kent were also present, Ann West and Rosemary Dymond.

Monday 22April saw a steady stream of visitors taking the guided tour of the ship. Many had been at the previous day’s service and having travelled some considerable distance they were keen to see the vessel itself. Attendance was far higher than a normal busy Saturday would have been, 100 people had indicated that they would attend.

The guides and the shop on board Medway Queen were kept busy. A feature on board was a Dunkirk diorama featuring a model of Medway Queen at the East Mole taking on troops.

Tuesday 23April (the actual launch anniversary) saw a reception for invited guests on board Medway Queen. Besides those at the Cathedral we were joined by the Lord Lieutenant of Kent, Lady Colgrain and representatives of the emergency services. Alan Cook was joined by his son, Robin and cousin, Linda, on the Tuesday, giving us a Grandson, Granddaughter and Great Grandson together.

Admiral Lord West and Philip Hesketh presided over the ceremony. Proceedings began with a march past of cadets and veterans on the quayside followed by a blessing of the Centenary Ensign  by the Very Reverend Philip Hesketh.

The Ensign was attached to the ensign staff at the stern of the ship and hoisted by two of the sea cadets under the watchful eye of Admiral Lord West. The cadets and veterans then joined the assembled guests on board for refreshments.  There were the usual speeches, and a Centenary Plaque was presented to Medway Queen by Howard Brooks (Vice Commodore) and Heather Dennett of the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships.

The week ended with the usual Saturday open day on 27 April, enhanced by a visit from a flotilla of boats from the Rochester Cruising Club, led by the Dunkirk Little Ship Maimonde. This day was busier than usual with a good crowd of visitors and the crews from the boats.

Medway Queen Centenary 2024
Medway Queen Centenary 2024
Ships Montly - January 2024

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