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Shipwrecked Mariners honour rescue heroes

25 Oct 2011
Lieutenant Commander Graham Chesterman collects the Edward and Maisie Lewis Award from HRH The Princess Royal at Fishmongers’ Hall in London earlier this month.

Lieutenant Commander Graham Chesterman collects the Edward and Maisie Lewis Award from HRH The Princess Royal at Fishmongers’ Hall in London earlier this month.

The UK’s HRH The Princess Royal has honoured maritime heroes who risked their lives in dangerous sea rescues.

Award recipients at a ceremony in London earlier this month included an air/sea rescue team which saved the crew of a stricken merchant ship following a tropical cyclone and a Cornish fisherman who battled through gale force winds and heavy seas to save 47 lives.

The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society’s Skill and Gallantry Awards, presented annually since 1851, recognise those who go above and beyond their call of duty at sea.

This year’s awards were presented to an air-sea rescue crew from Somerset, a Cornish fisherman and to Honorary Agent, Superintendent, Mike Sandison, who has given 25 years service to the Society. Cardiff based Honorary Agent Gwyneth Rees was also presented with the Stoakes Award for long and dedicated service to the Society on the occasion of her retirement.

Fisherman Shaun Edwards, skipper of the Newlyn based trawler Nova Spero, was awarded The Lady Swaythling Trophy for an outstanding feat of seamanship’ for undertaking a treacherous three day rescue mission through gale force winds to save 47 passengers and crew of the Polish Tall ship Fryderyk Chopin.

Having stopped fishing on the evening of 28th October, due to deteriorating sea conditions, Shaun Edwards and his crew heard a distress call from the tall ship which had become dismasted in the heavy seas, leaving the 11 crew and 36 fourteen year old Polish cadets drifting over 100 miles south west of the Isles of Scilly. Making the decision to attempt the rescue, the crew of the small trawler undertook the seven hour journey to the tall ship’s aid.

After becoming the only vessel able to establish a tow line, the Nova Spero began the arduous, three day task of towing the much larger tall ship back to Falmouth in adverse sea conditions.

The Edward and Maisie Lewis Award, for an outstanding air/sea rescue’, was awarded to HMS Chatham’s Lynx helicopter crew for their role in the rescue of the crew of the MV DubaiMoon which had become caught in a tropical cyclone in the Indian Ocean.

Attempting to rescue the crew of the MV Dubai Moon before it sank, Flight Commander Lieutenant Commander Peter Higgins AFC and his crew displayed superb airmanship, teamwork and courage in winching 23 crewmen to safety in dangerous conditions.

Lieutenant Commander Graham Chesterman, who was visiting HMS Chatham to carry out an air worthiness audit and had not flown for 15 years, was awarded an individual commendation for his role in helping to winch 22 stranded seamen to safety.

The final award, The Lord Lewin Award, was presented to Superintendent Mike Sandison following his 25 years as a dedicated Honorary Agent for the Society, supporting seafarers in need. Closely acquainted with the fishing community during his lifetime, Mike Sandison supports over 100 regular Society beneficiaries as well as ministering to a wider group of retired fishermen and their dependents.

Founded in 1839 the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society aims to provide financial help to merchant seafarers, fishermen and their dependents who are in need. Support is provided to ex-seafarers or their widows, either as regular grants or as one-off payments to meet particular needs. For more information on the Society visit www.shipwreckedmariners.org.uk

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Lieutenant Commander Graham Chesterman collects the Edward and Maisie Lewis Award from HRH The Princess Royal at Fishmongers’ Hall in London earlier this month.

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