Bluestone CEO William McNamara OBE greets The Queen
It was in 1955 when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II first visited Pembroke Dock, along with the Duke of Edinburgh, and was given an aerial salute by eight Sunderland flying boats from Wales’s only flying boat station, which operated between 1930 - 1959. During World War II the Pembroke Dock station became the largest flying boat base in the world. Airmen from many nations flew from ‘PD’ and the town will always be especially associated with the famous Sunderland flying boat.
Nearly 60 years on, during her visit to Pembrokeshire on Tuesday 29th April, Her Majesty returned to Pembroke Dock to open the very new Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre, in the beautifully restored Royal Dockyard Chapel. She was welcomed to the Chapel by Bluestone CEO William McNamara, who is Chairman of the Pembroke Dock Sunderland Trust.
These are some of William’s memories of a very special day for Pembroke Dock and the Sunderland Trust.
"It was a beautiful sunny day and many hundreds of people, including lots of schoolchildren, came to see and enjoy the Royal Visit. The Queen, the Duke and myself spoke is some detail about the Sunderland Trust and our heritage initiatives which began with the very successful the Flying Boat Centre and which have led in just a few years to yesterday’s opening of the Heritage Centre. We discussed the only remaining Mark 1 survivor in the world, still located in the Milford Haven Waterway, and the challenges faced in undertaking to bring this historic aircraft to the surface. We introduced members of the Trust’s team and explained about the large number of Volunteers we have, without whose support we would not be where we are today.
“There was a surprise display for The Queen to view in the form of a wedding dress - one of 12 dresses designed and donated to her by New York designer in 1947, the year of her wedding to the Duke of Edinburgh. These 12 dresses were given to brides who had married on the same day as The Queen and one went to a lady from Bosherston, near Pembroke. Her family has kept the dress in immaculate condition and it made a very special display item, with a unique royal link. The Queen was delighted to see this.
“All in all a fantastic experience which was obviously enjoyed by all who attended,” William concluded.
Pictures show Her Majesty and The Duke arriving at the Dockyard Chapel, meeting guests inside and Her Majesty unveiling a slate plaque to mark the Royal Visit. A painting of a Pembroke Dockyard-built Royal Yacht, the ‘Alberta’, was presented by William to The Queen and this will join the Royal Collection of Paintings.
To find out more information on the Sunderland Trust and the Heritage Centre please visit www.sunderlandtrust.com