Thanks to self-confessed Steam Packet Company fanatic Matt Cain, the Company and its heritage will be represented in this weekend’s Queen’s Jubilee Pageant on the Thames.
Four years ago Matt, whose father is Manx and whose grandfather was a Dunkirk Veteran, purchased No8 lifeboat from Lady of Mann I, which was built as the Centenary vessel for the company in 1930.
The lifeboat had been sold to an oyster/shrimp fisherman from Malden in the Essex marshes when Lady of Mann 1 was broken up at Barrow in 1971.
Matt explained: ‘The new owner of the lifeboat constructed a cabin and installed a diesel engine. So while she is not quite in her original form, the lines of the hull give a clue as to her former life. We renamed her Lady of Mann and her current home is on the Thames and I sail her in the Runnymede and Windsor areas.’
Because of the heritage of the parent vessel, and his pride in his Manx heritage, Matt attempted to enter the vessel for the Queens Jubilee Pageant and was delighted when she was accepted in the ‘historic ships and Dunkirk Little Ships section’, which will follow immediately behind the Royal Barge during the event, which takes place this Sunday, June 3. The event will receive extensive television coverage and No8 Lifeboat will have a film crew on-board, so the Isle of Man should get some great publicity on the day.
Matt said: ‘I am extremely grateful to the Steam Packet Company for the financial assistance towards a much-needed refurbishment of the vessel, in order for her to look her best for the pageant.’
Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘It should be a tremendous event and we’re very proud to have the Company, and its heritage, represented in such a way.
‘The Steam Packet vessel Lady of Mann 1 served at Dunkirk in May 1940 and then at the evacuation of the north-western French ports. She was also later engaged in the D-Day landings on the Cherbourg Peninsula.
‘Requisitioned as a personnel ship at the outbreak of war, she had a good turn of speed, and was able to get in and out of the Dunkirk bombardments and lift 4,262 men back to the relative safety of Dover and Folkstone.’
Mark added: ‘During the Queen’s Pageant the Steam Packet will also have a representative in the crew for the lifeboat Lady of Mann, in the form of Captain Kane Taha, our Marine Manager, who has been invited to take part by Matt. Kane is travelling to London with one of our house flags, which will fly proudly from the stern of the vessel.’