Historic Lowestoft fishing smack becomes region’s flagship
- Credit: Nick Butcher
As one of the few remaining fishing boats from the early 20th century left in the country, the Excelsior is already steeped in history.
But it is the smack's reinvention in more recent times as a ship providing crucial life experiences for young people which has helped it win a prestigious award as one of East Anglia's premier vessels.
The 23.5-metre boat built in 1921 served in the area's fishing fleet before being sold to a Norwegian in 1935 and converted into a motor cruiser.
But it was brought back to the town by John Wylson in 1971 and today provides educational trips for young people so they can learn about sailing and have a chance to test their leadership and team-working skills.
It has now been presented with the Flagship of the Year for East Anglia by National Historic Ships.
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David Savill, who made the presentation of the official flag to Mr Wylson on behalf of National Historic Ships, said the award was in recognition of its work with young people along the coast. He added: 'It is uniquely linked to the town. As well as its important message about maritime history, it represents Lowestoft.'
The Excelsior Trust, which manages the ship, also runs seven-day corporate voyages as team-building experiences for adults and sailing holidays.
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Mary George, development officer for the Excelsior Trust, said: 'This is a prestigious award recognising that the Excelsior is maintaining maritime history and encouraging young people to get involved.
'It's not necessarily just about the sailing – it's about an opportunity to work together and learn new skills.'
Mr Wylson added: 'It's a vessel of pre-eminent national significance and really means we're like a Grade-I Listed ship.'
The boat costs £150,000 per year to run, so organisers are always trying to raise funds to keep it going.
For more information, visit www.theexcelsiortrust.co.uk
Do you have a story about Lowestoft's fishing heritage? Email firstname.lastname@example.org