Maritime award for skipper of sailing barge Victor - as supper cruises return
- Credit: Stuart Grimwade/IMT Image Archive
Ipswich Maritime Trust has presented its Richard W Smith Memorial Award to David "Wes" Westwood, the skipper of Sailing Barge Victor.
The recognition comes as the historic vessel has just reopened for its cruises on the Orwell, including cream tea and supper cruises, after lockdown easing.
IMT chairman Geoffrey Dyball said: "For many years, the sailing barge Victor has been the star attraction of Ipswich's Waterfront.
"Moored on Common Quay, she makes a perfect pairing with the Old Custom House.
"Hundreds of people enjoy her trips down the Orwell. It is by far the best way to see the river.
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"None of this gives a clue to the hard work, and considerable expense, which goes into maintaining the barge.
"This has been the work of her skipper - he has, almost single-handed, been responsible for keeping alive this important part of our maritime history.
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"For that, IMT are proud to be able to present Wes with the Richard W Smith Award for 2021."
The award was launched by IMT in 2020, in memory of author and photographer Mr Smith, who died in 2017.
He was a founder member of the trust and a great contributor to appreciation of local maritime history and heritage.
A bronze cast medallion is awarded annually to a person or organisation who has contributed in a significant way to the understanding of local maritime culture or heritage. The first award went to historian Robert Malster.
Mr Westwood said he was delighted and surprised to receive this year's award.
"I was very pleased, and I didn't know it was coming at all. It was a complete surprise," he said.
SB Victor has just reopened for cruises on the Orwell following lockdown closure, which saw the barge moored up over the last year.
"We have started our summer season and are doing cream tea and supper cruises," Mr Westwood said.
"We have made a lot of changes and are keeping the numbers down because of Covid safety."
One of only a handful of Thames sailing barges left afloat, Victor was built by Horace Shrubsall at Dock End Yard in Ipswich in 1895.
The barge was brought back to the East Coast in 2005 and underwent a major refit and repair at Mistley and Maldon.
For more information on cruises on SB Victor, visit its website.