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Medway Queen named South East's 'Flagship of the Year'

The Medway Queen has been named the South East's 'Flagship of the Year' by National Historic Ships UK.

The Medway Queen Preservation Society will receive a cash grant to help preserve and promote the former paddle steamer - turned minesweeper and 'Heroine of Dunkirk' - which is based on the Medway at Gillingham.

The Medway Queen at Gillingham Pier is offering free virtual tours
The Medway Queen at Gillingham Pier is offering free virtual tours

In response to the impact of Covid-19, National Historic Ships UK has made a significant change to its annual awards scheme, which usually reflects the cruising programme or visitor numbers of each craft.

This year the organisation instead welcomed applications for ‘virtual flagships’ in recognition of the fact that vessels have had to cease operations, cancel or postpone events.

The 2020 Flagships have been selected for their commitment to raising their profile throughout the Covid-19 outbreak, through online activities, social media, developing learning resources, offering virtual tours and other creative means.

Hannah Cunliffe, director of National Historic Ships UK, commented: “I am delighted that we are able to offer these awards again as a means of supporting the sector at a time when it needs our help most. The creativity and resilience these vessels have shown in developing new online engagement packages to meet the current situation has been impressive and I look forward to working with them all in the months ahead.”

Flagships are expected to actively promote the role of National Historic Ships UK by sharing social media posts, publicising activities such as the annual Photo Competition, the Excellence in Maritime Heritage and Marsh Volunteer Awards. They will also be flying the flag as ambassadors for the UK’s maritime heritage sector.

The Flagships receive grants of £500 and £250 respectively to be spent on the vessel or related digital activities and a special broad pennant to fly at the masthead once the ship is active again.

It's just the latest chapter in the saga of the Medway Queen, the former pleasure cruiser which made seven return trips, rescuing 7,000 troops in the Dunkirk evacuation of 1940, earning the nickname, the Heroine of Dunkirk.

The 2020 National Flagship was HMS Belfast, Museum Ship.

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