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Saturday, 5 October 2019

A day to remember - Shipwrecked Mariners Society awards 2019 at Fishmongers Hall, London.


For over twenty years, after Nick Howell creator of the Pilchard Works Museum in Newlyn came back singing its praises, Through the Gaps has been longing for an invite to Fishmonger's Hall, the stunning building that is home to the Fishmongers Company Livery...


sited on the banks of the Thames next to London Bridge...


inside is a stunning collection of original fishmongering artwork...


dating back hundreds of years...


including, in the Court Drawing Room, one of the best known portraits of Queen Elizabeth II by Pietro Annigoni...


adjacent is the stunning Court Dining Room, bathed in a subtle warm light from all that gold leaf...


on the landing of the main stairs stands Sir William Walworth with dagger bared...


the Fishmongers Company is also home to the oldest boat race in the world, since 1715 the Doggets Coat and Badge Race, has been fought annually by river apprentices over a four mile and 7 furlong course on the Thames ...


and of course, until recently, Billingsgate Fish Market was just a few yards down river...


everywhere you look over 700 hundred years of history is on show, so for all those up in London for the annual Shipwrecked Mariners Society awards at their AGM became even more special...


for people like skipper Jay Holden, of the beam trawler, Emilia Jayne who was awarded the The Lady Swaythling Trophy, for facilitating the rescue of his crewmate who fell overboard in severe gale force 9 winds and 20ft seas off the coast of Salcombe, Devon, in March this year - and a special mention must be made of the fact that without that crew member wearing a PFD he wouldn't be still fishing - a point made by the pilot of the rescue helicopter at the time - in 21 years service it was the first time he had ever pulled a fisherman from the sea - alive...


next up, the Edward and Maisie Lewis Award, for an ‘outstanding rescue’, was presented to the crew of helicopter Rescue 01 based at Mount Pleasant Airfield in the Falkland Islands. The crew carried out two consecutive, complex and demanding rescues of critically ill patients in demanding and dangerous conditions that pushed their mental and physical endurance, as well as that of their helicopter, to the limit...


Lord Lewin Awards for outstanding service to the charity were also presented to two Honorary Agents for their remarkable commitment and long-term service. Superintendent ‘Sal’ Van Beem was honoured for her dedicated casework and exceptional commitment to the maritime community in Hull...



Through the Gaps, slightly humbled in the wake of such deserving company, was lucky enough to have that shot of mackerel being landed in Newlyn adjudged overall winner of the 2019 Photography Competition. 

The main honours were presented at the Society’s 168th annual Skill and Gallantry Awards by President, Sir George Zambellas GCB, DSC, DL, FRAeS, during the charity’s AGM.

Chief Executive of the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, Captain Justin Osmond RN, commented: “The Skill and Gallantry Awards is a fantastic opportunity for the maritime community to celebrate the brave, unsung heroes of the industry. This not only includes individuals who have displayed bravery and skill by helping those out at sea but is also an important opportunity to recognise the remarkable work of the charity’s Honorary Agents, who are vital to the success of the Society.

“We are honoured to celebrate these individuals that give so much of their time to supporting the maritime community, as without their dedication we would not be able to help as many people as we do. The awards are our way of saying thank you to everyone and to show our appreciation for everything they do.”


after meeting and exchanging contact details with an amazing bunch of people it was time to enjoy more art and culture at the National Gallery...


in a stormy, thunder and lightning shrouded Trafalgar Square...


before taking shelter from the increasingly heavy downpour in London's most central pub and the aptly named considering the day's nautical theme, Admiralty Inn where Through the Gaps promptly stumbled on more of our fishing industry heritage espying a painting of one of Marr's freezer trawlers steaming in a gale...

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she along with the rest of the fleet were a common sight in the late 1970s when they and the entire Scottish pelagic fleet would descend on the waters of Cornwall to fish for mackerel...


However, the tribute to Northella was not for her fishing exploits but her role in the 1982 Falklands conflict. The then, HMS Northella was one of the five Hull trawlers taken up from trade to form the 11th MCM Squadron commanded by MCDOA member Martyn Holloway. These vessels were converted into minesweepers and manned by personnel from refitting Ton class MCMVs before being sent to the South Atlantic for the Falklands conflict in 1982. 


 They performed various hazardous tasks besides sweeping 10 of the 21 mines laid off Port Stanley by the Argentinians, the others having broken adrift and floated away or failed to deploy from their sinkers properly - see 'The Forgotten Few of the Falklands'...


HMS Northella's bell currently hangs in The Admiralty, a Fullers pub in London's Trafalgar Square. Veterans of the 11th MCM Squadron recently presented the pub with a framed painting of HMS Northella, created by marine artist Adrian Thompson, with a descriptive brass plaque...


standing under the bell was another 'belle' who insisted on posing while the other bell shot was being composed!..


staff at the Admiralty couldn't have been more helpful and happy to talk more about the tribute - great atmosphere at 6pm and hearty quality London pub food to boot, what's not to like for a seafarer 300 hundred miles from home...


then it was off to the tube and rather than heading out ~Through the Gaps it was mind the gap!..


and neck strain from checking out the top of Europe's tallest building, the Shard.