Good luck today to the ‘crew’ on board Cambria for the last weekend of the St Kat’s Classic Boat Festival. If the weather here is anything to go by (blue skies, bright sunshine) then they may have a very busy time on their hands and could top the thousand visitors mark. That’ll be all staffed by unpaid volunteers which brings me neatly round to today’s subject, this year’s Volunteer of the Year, Richard Weekes.
Richard has been with us for years. Regular readers will remember the rebuild phase where I called him “My Oppo, Richard”. We were partnered up together on the volunteer rota for the open weekends where we showed the public around the Visitor Centre and the viewing gallery every 6th weekend. I ‘knew’ there were a dozen or so of us but during that phase, Richard was the only one I ever saw, so if I needed a ‘person’ to give a sense of scale to a photograph, or hands holding a paint brush for a blog picture, Richard always had to stand in, so that his daughter even joked that I was Richard’s ‘personal photographer’
Richard then piled in during the painting phase, joining the gang of us each weekend but then also coming down during the week too, to quietly slap a coat of black on a leeboard, or some gloss green on a winch in the old buildings. He has basically carried on ever since when he has been able to get access to the boat. You know what they say about these Navy types – if it moves, salute it; if it doesn’t move paint it!
Richard has his own Cambria and Bob Roberts connection which, if memory serves, had Richard on one of the Navy ships accompanying the likes of Bob Roberts on Cambria to Dunkirk for one of the anniversary (25th?) gatherings of Little Ships. When Bob and his Mate were to be invited aboard the Navy ship for a drop or two of rum, it was Richard himself detailed to go fetch Bob and bring him aboard, and then later to assist the rather more ‘tired and emotional’ Barge Master back to his barge.
Well, this year the Cambria Trust has decided to acknowledge Richard’s unstinting hard work as a volunteer, by presenting him with a very nice trophy. The presentation was performed on board at St Kat’s yesterday afternoon by our esteemed Patron, David Suchet himself, in company of the current Skipper, Ian Ruffles. Well done, Richard. You earned it. We are all very proud of you.