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Nautilus members were among those presented with British shipping’s highest honour, the Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service, at a ceremony held on 22 November 2022 at Trinity House. Jon Parkin reports
This year 14 maritime professionals were awarded the Merchant Navy Medal, with 13 able to attend the presentation ceremony. Among them were six members of Nautilus International.
The Princess Royal and Master of Trinity House, Princess Anne, usually presents the medal each year. However, she was unable to attend due to being in the Falklands on a visit. The Deputy Master of Trinity House, Captain Ian McNaught, read a letter from the Princess in which she expressed her apologies and congratulated the awardees.
The new UK maritime minister Baroness Vere stepped in to make the presentations. She said she had been hard at work during her short time in the post of minister, getting to grips with an industry that she had little experience of before. She reiterated what an honour it was to present the awards, and the respect she has for those working in such an important industry.
Nautilus members recognised
Captain Ann Pletschke – services to diversity, inclusion, and wellbeing in the maritime sector
Former Nautilus Council member Captain Pletschke was awarded the Medal for her work supporting those that have faced discrimination and as a mentor for cadets, junior officers, and shore-based members of the maritime sector. She has also enabled women from deprived backgrounds to gain qualifications and progress in maritime careers.
Mr Robert Greenwood – services to safety in the fishing industry
'It's a great honour to represent the fishing industry at an event where it is majority Merchant Navy. Two awards for the fishing industry is a very good result.'
Mr Greenwood, a trustee of The Seafarers' Charity, was awarded the medal for his work implementing the International Labour Organisation Work in Fishing Convention and has been a part of the UK Delegation at the International Maritime Organisation.
Captain Stephen Gudgeon – services to seafarer welfare
'For me, throughout my career, I have only ever wanted to improve the working and safety conditions of all seafarers. They strive so hard in a multinational/cultural industry to send home a fair wage to support family.'
Captain Gudgeon was honoured for his efforts to improve working, training and social conditions throughout his career at sea. He believes that looking after the crew onboard leads to improved safety and productivity.
Captain Heather Enness – services to training, promotion of the sector and diversity
'I'm so honoured to be here today, and so humbled to have even been nominated. I love the fact that my children are here to witness it, hopefully it will inspire them too.'
Captain Enness was awarded the medal due to her work as a Careers at Sea Ambassador, as well as her work to help cadets who were failed by their sponsors during the Covid-19 pandemic. She was also voted into the position of diversity and inclusion liaison on the Young Officers Committee at the Honourable Company of Master Mariners.
Captain Les Hesketh – services to education and training
'I'm very honoured on behalf of the Conway Merchant Navy Trust and the Honourable Company of Master Mariners. We train our cadets and we sponsor them through to a degree, and I think that's the way our younger generation must go for the Merchant Navy to continue.'
Captain Hesketh was honoured due to his work throughout his career promoting best practice and his work as a voluntary training officer for the Conway Merchant Navy Trust. Captain Hesketh has been a mentor to a number of cadets as they make their way through degree programmes and onto the next step in their careers.
Captain Iain MacNeil – services to maritime safety and technical publications
'Genuinely it is an honour because of what it reflects, the years of work that have been contributed. But also, I'm delighted to have my wife and my technical director with me today, because it isn't just about my achievements, it's importantly a team effort.'
Captain MacNeil, CEO of Witherby Publishing Group, has contributed to the release of many maritime publications for organisations including the UK Chamber of Shipping and the Merchant Navy Training Board.
Captain David Warden-Owen – services to maritime charities
'It's a very great honour, I never anticipated I would ever get this. I had a career at sea which I enjoyed immensely for over 50 years, and this is kind of the icing on the cake.'
Captain Warden-Owen received the medal for his work as a younger brother of Trinity House since 1997, after a long career as a Master for Cunard. He now also volunteers on the restoration and conversion of ships in Conwy; these vessels are given to those who need them abroad for medical use.
The full list of awardees
Captain David Barnicoat – services to raising awareness of the maritime sector and supporting seafarer welfare in Falmouth
Captain Andrew K Cassels – services to the Merchant Navy Welfare Board
Captain Daniel J Cross – services to the preservation of a historic ship and the towage sector
Captain Heather Enness – services to promotion of diversity and wellbeing within the maritime sector
Mr Robert J Greenwood – services to safety in the fishing industry
Captain Stephen G Gudgeon – services to seafarer welfare
Captain Leslie Hesketh – services to education and training
Captain Iain Macneil – services to maritime safety and technical publications
Captain Ann Pletschke – services to diversity, inclusion and wellbeing in the maritime sector
Mr Mark Ranson – services to workboat safety standards and training
Captain Peter Scott Roberts – devotion to duty and services to training and charitable contribution
Mr Paul James Scotter – services to safety in the fishing industry
Captain Andrew Shearer – services to supporting Sea Cadets
Captain David Warden-Owen – services to maritime charities