When the latest recipients of the Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service were announced in November 2020, the usual presentation ceremony could not take place due to coronavirus restrictions. However, the awardees were not forgotten, and as soon as the restrictions had been eased enough to organise the postponed ceremony, the UK Department for Transport set a date at the end of June 2021 and invited HRH The Princess Royal to present the medals at Trinity House in London.
The Merchant Navy Medal is UK shipping's highest honour, and for the last five years has also been a UK state award with a place in the Order of Wear, sitting alongside accolades such as the MBE and OBE.
At previous ceremonies, the Princess pinned the medal onto the lapels of the recipients, but this year, because of social distancing requirements, she was obliged to stand back while congratulating them on their achievements, and they each picked up their medal in its display box from a ceremonial gold-braided cushion. Instead of mingling in a drinks reception, the attendees sat down for afternoon tea, and the traditional photo of all the recipients on the Trinity House stairs was taken in two groups to allow for more interpersonal space.
Despite the changes, the event was, as always, a joyful celebration of service to the maritime community. Maritime minister Robert Courts emphasised in his speech to recipients and their guests how proud the country is of its Merchant Navy and fishing fleets.
Eight of the 2020 recipients of the Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service are Nautilus members, and the Union extends its congratulations to these highly-deserving maritime professionals.
The full list of recipients is as follows:
- Captain Neil Atkinson, for services to maritime education
- Max Bingle, for services to maritime safety
- Captain Colin Brown, for services to the Merchant Navy and maritime careers
- Frankie Horne, for services to fishing safety
- Trevor Jones, for services to fishing safety
- Captain Derrick Kemp, for services to maritime careers and training
- Fazilette Khan, for services to the marine environment
- Captain Christopher Locke, for services to ports and seafarer welfare
- Captain Malcolm Mathison, for services to the Merchant Navy
- Lt Cdr Anthony Muncer, for services to the Merchant Navy and maritime charities
- Helene Peter-Davies, for services to women in maritime
- Guy Platten, for services to the maritime sector
- Joanne Rawley, for services to seafarer wellbeing and mental health
- Martin Shaw, for services to maritime safety
- Captain Nicholas Spencer, for services to the Merchant Navy
- Kenneth Usher, for services to the maritime unions
- Captain Kevin Vallance, for services to maritime safety
- Dr Alan Wall, for services to maritime education and safety
- Captain Jonathan Warren, for services to maritime education
- Stephen Watkins, for services to maritime apprenticeships
More details of the recipients' service were given in a 2020 Nautilus Telegraph article.