A former lifeboat with an heroic history has been chosen to take part in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant – 72 years to the day after her return from Dunkirk where she helped to rescue 51 soldiers in the evacuation.
With owner Tim Dansie, director of national estate agents Jackson-Stops & Staff in Ipswich, at the helm, the 55ft boat Stenoa is being prepared for the big day by Tim and his family, who have owned the boat for the past 42 years. Tim’s father bought her from the RNLI at Newhaven in Sussex where she saved 148 lives during 30 years of service.
Tim Dansie said: “Taking part in the Pageant is a fitting tribute to a boat with an amazing history. All lifeboats on the east and south coast were called in to help with the Dunkirk evacuation. The boats were taken across by naval crews and our boat took troops from the beaches out to the waiting destroyers. At one stage, she was marooned on the sands for over four hours.”
The boat was bought by the Dansie family in 1969 and her name was changed, a condition of her sale, from the Cecil and Lilian Philpot, to an acronym of the family’s first names – Stenoa – after Sarah, Timothy, Elizabeth, Nicholas, Oliver and Anne.
Tim and his family keep the boat on the Walton Backwaters in Essex, the inspiration for Arthur Ransome’s Secret Water, the eighth book in the children’s classic Swallows and Amazons series. She is a member of the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships and has takes part in the reunion, held every five years, the last in 2010.
Stenoa will be one of around 50 boats from the Dunkirk Little Ships taking part in the seven-mile flotilla, comprising 1,000 boats, and the biggest gathering on the Thames for more than 350 years, on Sunday 3 June, from Battersea Bridge to Tower Bridge. More than a million people are expected to gather to watch the spectacle.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will sail down the Thames aboard the Royal Barge, a specially converted state-of-the-art cruise boat designed to evoke the opulence of royal maritime traditions. They will be joined on board by senior members of the Royal Family, including the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
Tim said: “We will be part of the Avenue of Sails close to Wapping and in full view of Tower Bridge. The Royal Barge will be between us and Tower Bridge having come down the Thames at the front of the procession. The Royal Barge will moor against HMS President, the Royal Navy’s land based site, and the Queen and the Royal Family will review the Pageant as the boats sail by, and we will have the pleasure of a similar view! “