Marsh Award for ShipShape Volunteer Project

This Marsh Award is to help National Historic Ships celebrate and recognise volunteers working on vessels which are registered with the National Historic Ships’ ShipShape Network which brings together owners of historic vessels, providing them with resources and support to maintain their vessels. 

In 2021, the ShipShape Project Award was added that recognises those who have participated in a 12-month training scheme.

Pilgrim of Brixham Volunteers and The Sutton Hoo Ship Volunteers 2023

Pilgrim of Brixham Volunteers
The Pilgrim of Brixham Volunteers are a dedicated team that have played a vital role in preserving and maintaining the ship for future generations and ensuring that the historic vessel remains a living testament to maritime heritage, including ensuring its financial stability. The volunteer’s maintenance efforts included restoring and repairing the decks, rigging, electrical and engine works, and updating the interior for guests. The volunteers also shine in hospitality, welcoming visitors with warmth and enthusiasm to share the ship’s stories and significance and creating an immersive experience. Through their interactions they have fostered a deeper appreciation for maritime history among the public and instilled a sense of pride in the local community, creating an enjoyable and popular attraction. The volunteers have also demonstrated exceptional seamanship skills with a broad understanding of the boat’s traditional sailing rigging and techniques. They are enthusiastic with passing on their knowledge and skills to younger generations.

The Sutton Hoo Ship Volunteers
The Sutton Hoo Ship Volunteers took earlier drawings and collections of photographs of an original excavation of this ship to create a modern 3D model to help with the reconstruction. These volunteers came from a wide variety of backgrounds, including retired engineers, surgeons, social workers, accountants, woodworkers, students, apprentices and military personnel aged from 16-92 years old. The model allowed the volunteers to research and train in the traditional techniques needed to create various required parts for the ship’s construction. Other teams of volunteers cover areas such as research, recording, marketing, fundraising and front-of-house duties, talking to visitors and going out to give talks to interested groups. The volunteers have a depth of knowledge about the ship and its reconstruction and explain how their experimental archaeology project brings to life a little-understood period of our past and help understand more about Anglo-Saxon ancestors. The volunteers are also spread across a range of roles that include the Production Crew, Model Makers, Recording Crew, Volunteer Researchers, Creative Crew, and Media Crew who all keep the ship maintained and ready for visitors.

Previous Winners

MV Balmoral Volunteers

This team of volunteers are vital to the high standard of upkeep and maintenance of the MV Balmoral and without them the vessel would not have a future. The volunteers cover a range of skills and trades that enables them to achieve any work and maintenance that is required. The volunteers help with the sealing of the deck, replacing of any planks and make huge contributions to protecting the interior. They also remove rotten areas of timber, ready for repair pieces and ensure that there is enough varnish on the mast and that the paint work is up to scratch. The MV Balmoral Education Team is a huge part of the MV Balmoral, raising funds and engaging schools and the community in exciting projects that link the ship to businesses and the users of the Bristol Waterways. The volunteers work with school children and families on maritime related challenges or tasks to boost their understanding of the vessel and address the need to appeal to transnational communities and decolonise the narrative of Bristol’s harbor, aiming to appeal to a diverse audience. Some volunteers are recruited to be able to speak about topics from their experiences as seafarers or migrants.

The Steam Tug Kerne Preservation Society 

The engineering volunteers of the society took on the very difficult and time consuming task of replacing all 80 screwed stay tubes in Kerne’s Steam boiler (built in 1936) without using modern welding repair methods. The route of using traditional methods is not usually taken because of its difficulty, but the volunteers took on this challenge in order to keep these traditional skills alive and maintaining the authenticity of the vessel. Over 10,000 volunteer man hours over a three year period have been required to research, devise and complete the work to bring the riveted boiler back in good repair to enable Kerne to sail by steam again this year. The volunteers have been led by Chris Heyes, a founding member of the Preservation Society who is the vessel’s Chief Engineer.