A Warsash cadet has been presented with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) Officer of the Year Award 2021, after he showed exemplary conduct in pursuing his career against the odds and supporting other students.
Gabriel Verne was nominated by Warsash Maritime School along with sponsor company Ship Safe Training and A.P. Moller-Maersk. His dedication to a career in maritime is what made him stand out to the judges.
Mr Verne was inspired to pursue a career in maritime after moving to the UK south coast from Poland at the age of 12. He said: 'I spent my teenage years in Bournemouth, forever changing my attitude towards the sea. I cannot imagine ever being away from the seaside for any long period of time.
'I wanted to be able to learn a trade that would enable me to earn a living while travelling the world and that's exactly what the Merchant Navy offered. I'm now fully qualified to embark on an amazing adventure that this career brings and hungry for more experience.'
It took Gabriel six years to obtain the necessary citizenship, qualifications, and documentation to enrol as a cadet. He did all of this without any family support and still found the time to help his fellow students and promote the maritime industry.
I feel genuine delight and gratification and it is undoubtedly thanks to the efforts of the lecturers, close friends and fellow cadets that have enabled me to get to where I am now.
The journey was not easy for him. He had trouble accessing accommodation outside of term-time, which led him to take on extra work to earn enough money to pay for somewhere to live. He also showed great resilience; for example, when he was let down by a sponsor company on a guaranteed job, he saw it as an opportunity to explore alternative career routes.
Speaking about his win, Gabriel said: 'I feel genuine delight and gratification and it is undoubtedly thanks to the efforts of the lecturers, close friends and fellow cadets that have enabled me to get to where I am now.'
He was selected for the award by an industry panel of judges, including Nautilus representatives, and received his prize at the UK Chamber of Shipping’s annual dinner on Monday 7 February.
2020's winner, Gregor Connor, was also celebrated at the ceremony after being nominated by the City of Glasgow College, along with his sponsor company the Ship Safe Training Group and P&O Ferries.
His award was collected on his behalf as he is currently at sea, however, he said: 'It is great to be recognised and rewarded for the efforts and hard work I have put in throughout my cadetship. Winning the MCA Officer Trainee of the Year Award 2020 is not only a great personal achievement but is also good for future employment as an indication of my work ethic.'
MCA chief executive Brian Johnson presented the awards. He said: 'It is such an honour to present these awards to these two seafarers who are clearly so passionate about what they do.
'Both Gregor and Gabriel have shown incredible commitment and worked extremely hard and I’m proud that we’re able to recognise their dedication through these richly deserved awards.'