The Paddle Steamer Medway Queen had a weekend of birthday celebrations on the 26th and 27th April. On the 23rd she was 90 years old.
On the Saturday the Preservation Society had an open day. From the moment the gates opened at 11.00 there was a steady stream of visitors who were keen to see this wonderful vessel and how her restoration is coming along. Members of the society were on hand to explain various parts of the ship e.g. where her mine sweeping gear was put during the war and also where the galley was that fed the 7,000 men that she saved at Dunkirk etc.
On Sunday 27th April a Service of Thanksgiving, Blessing of the ship and laying of wreaths was held up on deck. The Reverend Father Sean O’Connor from Our Lady of Gillingham Catholic Church officiated, and blessed the ship with Holy Water, and readings were given by the Reverend Ann Richardson from Holy Trinity Church at Twydall, Mrs Noreen Chambers one of the Society’s Vice Presidents and Gill Ellen one of the long serving members of the Society. There were three wreaths and a posy of flowers laid on the fiddly at the base of the funnel. The poppies from the society were in memory of ALL deceased Dunkirk veterans both those who died in 1940 and those who have passed away since. This was laid by Mr John Clayton on behalf of the Society. A beautiful floral wreath made in the colours of the society logo – blue and white was placed by another of our vice presidents Mr John Chambers. The Royal British Legion Chairman Mrs Dunger then laid a poppy wreath and a posy of poppies was placed on the fiddly by the ladies section representative Mrs Loft.
The occasion was very well attended and our thanks go to Lady Monckton of Brenchley, the deputy Mayor of Medway Councillor Mrs Jane Etheridge and her husband. Mrs Anne West, Deputy Lord Lieutenant, Mrs Sue McLoud the Principal of Mid Kent College, Mr Paul Clark, Mrs Benita Woolley the Commodore of the Medway Yacht Club as well as many members of the Medway Queen Preservation Society. Our thanks go to ALL our guests for supporting this wonderful occasion.
Mrs Pam Bathurst, who organised the event with her husband Mark, said that she feels that the ships exploits over the years will go down in history, and that the wonderful blessing that the Medway Queen received was well deserved and she hopes that the support that was given on the day will continue into the future. She helped to save over 7,000 men at Dunkirk which was a record for any ship below the size of a destroyer. We hope that everyone will help her now and support the Society to finish bringing her back to her former glory. Why not become a member and visit her regularly to watch the work as it continues.