Dedicating the new MVS Standard

On Saturday 6th August 2016 Phil Collins (skipper), John (mate), Francois, Alan, Melissa, Ludovic, Martin Skipper, Clara and Kevin met at HMS President to travel aboard Londinium 1 to Gravesend for a ceremony with the Gravesend Maritime Volunteer Service (MVS) Unit to dedicate the new MVS Standard (a ceremonial flag). The new Standard will be used by the MVS at ceremonial occasions throughout the year, including Remembrance Sunday and Merchant Navy Day. This demonstrates a commitment by the MVS to help keep alive the maritime traditions of this country. Shortly after 07:00h we departed from HMS President on the ebb tide, accompanied by a few yachts who were also taking advantage of the good weather and tidal conditions. During the journey all crew had the opportunity to take the helm and familiarise themselves with nautical charts and the GPS system. Phil Collins also explained to the crew what different buoys were on the Thames.
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London landmarks (and yachts) as we leave for Gravesend early in the morning

On arrival at Gravesend Town Pier we berthed astern of the Massey Shaw; a former London Fire Brigade fireboat. There were already a lot of people gathering at Gravesend Town Pier, including the local Mayor. Gravesend MVS members welcomed us and showed us around the engine room of the Massey Shaw fireboat. It was interesting to find out that the Massey Shaw played a large role in saving St. Paul's Cathedral during the Blitz, by pumping large amounts of water from the Thames, and that she was also one of the 'Little Ships' that rescued men from Dunkirk. After our tour, Clara and Martin kindly prepared an early lunch for all of us. At 11:00h City of London MVS joined Gravesend Unit on the deck of the Massey Shaw for the dedication ceremony. We paraded in single file on to the deck to face Gravesend Town Pier and many guests. Reverend Jacqueline Littlewood (Chaplain of the Gravesend MVS Unit) lead the service, whilst members of the Merchant Navy Association assisted with the formalities and bugle playing. The service was very moving and was carried out professionally. Afterwards many photos were taken by the local press, and by members of the Maritime Volunteer Service - Ludovic from the City of London MVS took many photos.
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City of London MVS members aboard the Massey Shaw during the ceremony

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The new MVS standard

Following refreshments and introductions of guests, we had the pleasure of taking out a local Councillor and a Deputy Lieutenant on a short trip along the Thames aboard Londinium 1. Our guests thoroughly enjoyed the trip, and both had the opportunity to take the helm and learn more about  the Maritime Volunteer Service whilst aboard. We timed the trip well, as at 13:00h there was a demonstration of the fire hoses aboard the Massey Shaw - which Londinum 1 passed beneath. We all got a little wet! After the trip we were greeted by a sea shanty band who were playing Drunken Sailor and A-Roving on Gravesend Town Pier.
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Demonstration of the fire hoses from Gravesend Town Pier

Later that afternoon we assisted Gravesend MVS and Sailability by taking out a few young ex-offenders on our vessel Londinum 1 on a short trip along the Thames. All the guests very much enjoyed the trip - particularly as many of the guests had never travelled on a boat before. They especially enjoyed getting wet when Londinium 1 once again travelled beneath the jets of water for another fire hose display on the Massey Shaw! After all the excitement of the day, we were invited to attend a BBQ at Gravesend Sailing Club, and some delicious cupcakes were handed around for all to sample! After the BBQ a few members of the City of London Unit took the opportunity to look around the local area, and visited a beautiful Sikh temple nearby. Some members chose to spend the night in Gravesend, where Alan (from the Gravesend MVS Unit) kindly treated those who were staying over to a late supper in the sailing club. The following day everyone made their way to Gravesend Town Pier again for a final display of the fire hoses on the Massey Shaw. Then both Londinium 1 and the Massey Shore made their way back towards London. All in all a very enjoyable weekend, and thanks goes to the Merchant Navy Association for their kind donation towards the cost of the MVS Standard.