Centenary of Coastal Forces to be celebrated with a planned sail-past of heritage craft

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Medusa web

The very special history of Coastal Forces boats, known as the “Spitfires of the Seas”, is to be celebrated at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard to mark its centenary, with a planned sail-past on Thursday, August 25.

Five Coastal Forces boats, each with a unique story to tell, are scheduled to take part at 12.30pm before berthing on the pontoon next to Boathouse 4, which has strong links to the Coastal Forces.

The cathedral-sized attraction’s Forgotten Craft exhibition celebrates the roles small boats have played in the history of the Royal Navy.
Veterans who have served on Coastal Forces boats will be in attendance for the event, as well as other descendants of those who have served on them.

Captain Trevor Robotham RN, of the Coastal Forces Heritage Trust, said: “The centenary of Coastal Forces celebrates a branch of the Royal Navy which played a significant part in the naval success of both world wars. The brave young men who manned these fast attack craft made an extraordinary contribution to naval warfare. They operated in the darkest of nights in flimsy heavily armed craft, attacking the enemy at very close range. Their history from the sinking of a major Bolshevoic Cruiser in 1919 by a three manned 40 foot Coastal Motor Boat is a tremendous story which is now rightly celebrated.”

The Coastal Forces was born from the idea of Coastal Motor Boats (CMB) during the Great War. A group of young officers in Harwich wanted to build a small but fast attack motor boat which carried torpedoes and 100 years ago exactly, the first six Coastal Motor Boats were delivered to the Royal Navy.
The CMB flotillas had been disbanded by 1922 and were replaced by Motor Torpedo and Gun Boats.

The very young men who served in Coastal Forces manned craft that were wooden, heavily armed carrying ammunition and high octane fuel as they went into attack naval enemy at close range.

Coastal Forces played a prominent part in both world wars and the people who served in the Motor Torpedo Boats, Motor Gunboats and Motor Launches gained a greater number of distinguished service awards than any other branch of the Royal Navy.

Arriving at the Historic Dockyard in the morning of August 25 are HDML 1387, known as Medusa from her post war service, HMS Smiter, MTB 102, HSL 102 and MGB 81.
Medusa was a navigational guide for the Normandy Landings. MTB102 served in the Second World War both at Dunkirk and Normandy, and the HSL 102 was a rescue launch for aircrew ditched in the sea during the same period.

HSL102 was inspected by King George and the Queen (later HM The Queen Mother) during the Second World War having rescued 30 to 40 aircrew in the space of a couple of weeks; The Queen Mother returning to relaunch her following her restoration in the 1990s.

HMS Smiter is a P2000 patrol boat currently serving with the Royal Navy. MGB 81 took part in D-Day and served in Robert Hichens’ MGB Flotilla. Robert Hichens was the most decorated Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve officer of the Second World War with two DSOs, three DSCs and three Mentions in Despatches.


ARISE funding gives boost to Portsmouth charities

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Age UK Portsmouth - panini grill webDean Bryant, Kitchen Manager at Age UK Portsmouth, and kitchen staff, Tracy and Natalie,
making paninis and toasted sandwiches with new grill

Five local charities have been awarded funding this summer from ARISE – the charitable scheme founded by Gunwharf Quays. The latest round of grants has enabled Solent MS Therapy Centre, The LifeHouse, Age UK Portsmouth, Wessex Cancer Trust and The King’s Theatre to purchase much needed equipment and materials to continue improving their facilities.

Solent MS Therapy Centre, which provides support to people with Multiple Sclerosis, has replaced its therapy couch thanks to the scheme. ARISE granted the centre £1,000 to upgrade its 10-year-old treatment equipment, ensuring people affected with MS can receive physio in comfort.

Two charities have also been able to improve their kitchen equipment with a combined funding of £1,500. The LifeHouse, based in Southsea, has purchased two new ovens to help serve hot meals to local homeless people and those suffering with addiction problems. Age UK Portsmouth has also updated its café kitchen with a selection of appliances including a panini grill, enabling the team to create nutritious and appetising meals for vulnerable and isolated older people in Portsmouth.

Colin Wilding, General Manager at Gunwharf Quays, said: “Equipment is often crucial to the day-to-day running of charities. This summer’s ARISE grants have given a much needed upgrade to vital equipment, some of which were up to a decade old!

“In the last four years the scheme has funded over 60 local charitable organisations, bringing the total to over £43,000. We look forward to welcoming the next wave of applications and helping more organisations provide essential support and care to our community.”

Carol Elliott, Business Development Manager for Age UK Portsmouth, said: “Our café is open to all members of the public, Monday to Friday from 8:45am to 3pm, and we are delighted to have received this funding so that we can offer more varied meals.”

Further equipment was purchased by the Cosham branch of Wessex Cancer Trust, which was granted £700 to soundproof one of its therapy rooms. The King’s Theatre used a £625 boost to support its Community Engagement project with three primary schools in Portsmouth. Materials have been purchased for the school children to design a costume for the theatre’s production of Jack and the Beanstalk.

Funding from ARISE is awarded through an application process in which any group, organisation or individual within the Portsmouth postcodes PO1 to PO17 can apply year round, for tangible goods or projects that have a lasting impact for the community.


Aspex presents ‘Rich In Vitamin Art’

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Lucy Foakes 1 web

Aspex presents ‘Rich In Vitamin Art’, a contemporary ceramic show from artist Lucy Foakes.
This exhibition comprises of a range of ceramic and mixed media works, inspired by Ancient Egypt.

In ancient tradition Canopic jars would hold the vital organs of the deceased Pharaohs, namely the liver, lungs, intestines and stomach. Foake’s artworks, titled ‘CAN-opics’, are a metaphorical brand of fizzy drink for pharaohs in the afterlife.

Aspex will also be showing a number of larger works by the artist, created in memory of celebrities. These vessels metaphorically contain the organs of the deceased, more specifically the organ relating to their death. These pieces have a richly decorated and descriptive surface, constructed using a range of ceramic techniques.
Foakes said: "the contrast of materials (ceramics and water jet cut steel) complements the contrast of Ancient Egypt and modern fame in these concepts.”

Lucy Foakes web

Ancient Egypt has been of great interest to Foakes since her youth, taking inspiration from various books and archaeology kits. This was confirmed by her attempt to mummify a pet.

Foakes graduated in 2010 from University College Falmouth with a BA (Hons) in Contemporary Crafts. She went on to Win the prestigious ‘BDC New designer of the year’, and in 2013, won the ‘Bluecoat display centre showcase award’. She has been involved in several events and exhibitions, and currently holds a studio in central Bristol.

'Rich In Vitamin Art' runs from the 10 August - 16 October.


Thousands flock to Summer Festival at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

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Dockyard Logo

The first ever Summer Festival at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard has been hailed a success by organisers.

More than 10,000 visitors came to the Historic Dockyard over Friday, Saturday and Sunday which saw the launch of the festival in Boathouse 4.
A variety of activities, workshops and demonstrations with a real focus on traditional boatbuilding and woodworking took place in the cathedral-sized boathouse. There was also some musical performances and pyrotechnics in the Mast Pond outside Action Stations from the Portsmouth Model Display Boat Team.

Summer Festival organiser, Marian Smith, said: “It was such a thrill to see all of these people coming into Boathouse 4 and outside to explore the boatyard inside, the Forgotten Craft exhibition upstairs, the Midships Cookhouse. They seemed to be really taken with the traditional boatbuilding and Tudor Shipwright skills being demonstrated, and the wonderful music and drama performances throughout the weekend.”

On Friday for the Summer Festival, the launch of the Rally for Heroes, where a service was held on board HMS Victory with England rugby star Rory Underwood to pay tribute to those who fight for their country, before participants in their supercars set off around Europe to raise money for the armed forces charity SSAFA.
Hundreds of families and visitors also piled in to the Historic Dockyard for the homecoming of HMS St Albans, which was held in the naval base.

Director of Visitor Experience at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, John Rawlinson, said: “It was a stunning weekend and we were delighted to see so many people interested in the Summer Festival. The atmosphere was superb throughout.”


International Commodore's Cup [Interview]

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It’s been a busy time on the Solent, with the RC44's racing for the first time in our waters for the Portsmouth Cup, followed by the spectacular ACWS, and most recently the International Commodores Cup. Cheryl Buggy spoke to Nick Elliott, the series organiser:

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