Since the Spring Newsletter at the end of April, the Wellington has had three hard blows.
The first was the death of our past Chairman, Captain Guy Brocklebank, Royal Navy. When we went to print at the end of April, Guy was in hospital slowly recovering from a major fall and damage to his head. He remained in a coma for a long time, and on recovering consciousness showed good signs for a recovery. However the effects of the coma finally affected his internal systems, and he went into terminal care, finally leaving us on 29th June at the young age of 65. A most moving funeral service was held by the family at Wyre Forest Crematorium on 21st July, which was relayed on a live streaming link to many of his friends and the organisations where he was much involved.
Following a career in the Royal Navy, where Guy qualified as a Communications specialist, when he retired he drew on his extensive networking, contributing to many organisations and charities in full. He was elected Master of the Honourable Company of Scientific Instrument Makers in 2006/7 and was well known in the City as Chairman of Traditional Thames Rowing. He also maintained his maritime career interests with involvement with the Sea Cadets. All of us who got to know him enjoyed his company and when he took over from me as Chairman of the Trust we all greatly valued his skill, fluency and hard work. The WT Friends have sent our deepest condolences to his family and especially to his long-standing partner, Annie Robertson.
While Guy was ill, Alastair Chapman, as Vice Chairman, took over and we were delighted when he agreed to be elected as Guy’s successor on 22nd July.
As mentioned in our extra newsletter on 9th June, we were also hugely saddened by the abrupt and sudden death on 29th May of our long-serving ship keeper, Igor Rykhlivsky, whilst on his duty. Igor became a ship keeper back in 2002, for the HCMM, and then transferred to The Trust when this was formed in 2005. He was a loyal, popular, courteous and highly effective part of the Wellington, looking after the ship at nights and over the weekends and when the ship was closed. He also was our photographer for events. He was 63, born in the Ukraine and was granted British citizenship in 2014. Penny, our Treasurer for the Friends attended his funeral.
Thirdly, the Corvid pandemic inevitably called for the closure of The Wellington to all but essential maintenance and ship keeping staff. The revenues of both the HCMM and The Wellington Trust have been badly affected, and we have had to review our futures together with regards to the survival of the ship and the long term finances of the two operations. After a deal of time-consuming hard work by our Chairman, and Trustees Nigel Dickenson and David Hogben, this has resulted in an agreement whereby HCMM will take over the daily management and maintenance of the ship from the Trust, whilst The Trust continues to own the ship, to provide the schooling, exhibitions and displays, and to continue to raise money for the preservation of the ship and her heritage.
More of this will be in our autumn newsletter. To help achieve this, the Company have taken the catering business in-house and formed their own wholly-owned company called Seahorse Hospitality Ltd, with a new Catering Manager. All previously confirmed bookings have been transferred, and Egle Maksimovaite continues to run the bookings. She can be contacted on 0207 836 8179 and her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Commodore Angus Menzies retires on 1 August as the joint Clerk to the Company and Chief Executive of The Trust. Lt. Scott Hanlon, RNR, BA(Hons), has been appointed as the new Clerk to the HCMM. He will not have any direct role with The Trust but will be responsible for all the maintenance and the daily running and management of the ship. Angus has been our Chief Executive since 2009 and has done an excellent job keeping the ship safe, secure and well, and the staff happy. At the same time, he has served as Clerk to the Honourable Company. During his time he has certainly raised the bar on the appearance of the ship, inside and out, and has done a grand job keeping the ship safe and secure. During his reign, he has handled in true Naval Secretary professional style all the liaisons and business with the PLA and Westminster. Thank you Angus.
Following a skills audit, The Trust has had a revisi0n of the Trustees and their roles and there are some major changes. The skills audit identified the need for more expertise among the Trustees, and each Trustee has been given an area of responsibility to oversee. This will cover Schooling, Exhibitions and Displays, Marketing, and Finance. In addition, three members of the HCMM, appointed by the HCMM, have now joined the Trust’s Board. Several of the original Board Trustees, having served their term, stood down and they were warmly thanked for all their work and involvement over the years at the Board Meeting on 23rd July.
In the next Newsletter, we will bring you a full list of the new Board of Trustees. The new arrangements should help bring the Trust and the Company much closer together with both organisations concentrating on the ship and preserving her for the future.
The ship remains locked down to events on board and the Wardroom stays closed. The Trust is looking into running the Heritage evenings initially on Zoom, and we will let you know, hopefully, what we can arrange for Friends in the next month. We are looking forward to getting measures in place to allow us to have a good party for Friends!
With all these changes, the one major constant is the Friends. I am staying on as your Chairman, but now our marketing Trustee, Jenny Moseley, is joining me as Vice Chair, and Fiona Sparkes, our new Trust Manager is taking on Friends membership, among other administrative tasks.
We will rely on the Friends to help raise money for the preservation of the ship, and for enhancements to bring the ship back in small areas to her original state. The Friends will also be our main source for volunteers to help run our programme for education and exhibitions. We want to expand and grow the number of Friends, but all existing Friends will remain on the current subscription rates, but we will be preferring payment of subscriptions by Standing Order. We will be looking at options for regional Friends, more benefits, and better communication.
The hope is to have a Friends’ general meeting and lunch or similar get together onboard by the end of the year. In honour of Guy, we have invited his long-standing partner Annie Robertson to be our first Honorary Life Friend, and she has warmly accepted this.
At last, all the approvals have been obtained for work to start on replacing the moorings for the ship. Under the new arrangement with the HCMM, the majority of the cost for this long-awaited event is being borne by the HCMM. The Chief Exec, Angus, has worked hard and long in obtaining the licences and agreement with the contractor, and the piling work should be commencing imminently, but obviously with Corvus related implications. All should be in place when you next come on-board!
Captain (Rtd) Stephen Taylor, Royal Navy, FNI
Chair of The Friends of The Wellington, and Editor