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United Kingdom

Maritime trailblazers recognised with Merchant Navy Medal

9 September 2021

Two trailblazing activists promoting the rights of women and LGBT+ members in the maritime community have been honoured for their achievements in the Merchant Navy Medal awards for 2021.

Captain Susan Cloggie-Holden – the first woman to reach the rank of captain in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary's (RFA) 116-year history – received a Merchant Navy Medal for her tireless work to encourage, promote and support women in maritime.

Capt Cloggie-Holder is a founding member and vice-chair of the Women in Maritime Taskforce, a forum with over 700 members.

Captain Cloggie-Holden said: 'I'm honoured to be awarded this prestigious medal alongside some truly inspirational seafarers. To reach the rank of captain has been my career ambition and I now feel it is my duty to help others to reach their goals. I believe diversity is key to this, as an inclusive and diverse working environment ensures everyone is equal and enables them to reach their potential.'

Paul Owen

Second Officer Paul Owen received a medal for his efforts in promoting LGBT+ rights across the maritime sector and his work as part of the Maritime UK Pride in Maritime Network.

Mr Owen, who will be appointed as the RFA's LGBT+ Champion when he returns to the RFA this autumn, said: 'I am deeply humbled and surprised to receive this honour. I have played a small part in the Diversity in Maritime initiative whilst seconded to Maritime UK, but it has broadened my knowledge of the diversity issues faced in the maritime sector through involvement in the four aspects of the programme (Ethnicity, Pride, Women and Mental Health).'

In announcing the awards Maritime Minister Robert Courts said: 'Every year I am humbled by the dedication of these sailors, captains and mariners who consistently go above and beyond the call of duty to protect and enrich the sector and our country.

'I'm delighted to see Paul and Susan rewarded for their outstanding service; diversity is vital for the success of any sector and the extraordinary work they do daily not only makes maritime a welcoming career path for everyone but improves the lives of those already in the workforce.'

The UK Merchant Navy medal for Meritorious Service is the highest honour for shipping. It recognises outstanding service and contributions to the industry, including services for seafarer welfare during the Covid-19 pandemic, safety and security standards, and training.

See the full list of Merchant Navy Medal recipients for 2021