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Marine / Swan volunteer nets national award

A SWAN TRUST volunteer has been awarded a national award in recognition of  the support he has given to the historic sail training vessel.

Ian Nicolson has been volunteering with the trust since 1999.

He won an individual volunteer prize at the 2022 National Historic Ships UK awards this week.

The Swan Trust’s Brian Wishart said: “Ian came aboard Swan for a trip in 1999, and was so captivated he approached us to ask if there was anything he could do to help. With his background in marine engineering, he soon became our consultant, and person in charge of, all aspects of the mechanical and electrical engineering of Swan’s equipment.

Ian Nicolson.

“But it is not just his engineering skills which we nominated him for. Ian is an incredibly well liked member of the team – with his natural, friendly and helpful approach to everyone he meets and engages with.

“As a regular crew member, he is well liked by everyone who comes aboard, both for his patient and encouraging nature in teaching them to sail and for his stories and knowledge of Shetland’s maritime heritage.

“He is also very supportive and generous with this time and knowledge, showing our crew and volunteers how to maintain the engine and other mechanical equipment aboard. When we discussed making a nomination for this award, Ian’s name was the one which came forward unanimously from trustees and crew, and we are delighted he has won – it is well deserved.”

The awards were announced at the National Historic Ships UK virtual ceremony on Tuesday (22 November), which saw a range of awards being made in celebration of maritime heritage around the UK.

Ian appeared during the ceremony in a pre-recorded thank you film.

He said: “I am only one of a great many volunteers who do a great deal and are just as committed to keep the Swan and all the other classic and iconic boats going.

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“Therefore, I would like to acknowledge all the volunteers who help care for these vessels and thank National Historic Ships UK and Marsh Charitable Trust for highlighting all our work.

“Like many, I don’t do what I do for recognition or reward, my reward is seeing the look on a school child or sail trainee’s face as they take the helm as the vessel surges on under sail, or as people, strangers, arrive on board, greeting each other politely, at the start of a trip, and a week later, gelled together, working as a team, with friendships forged that lasts long after the trip has finished.

“Over the years, a great many school children have sailed on the Swan, thrilled by hauling up sails and steering at the helm. Many have come back as youth sail trainees to take part in the Tall Ships Races – an experience those who take part say is one of the best things they will ever do.

“Several have also gone on to marine careers all around the world – their interest first sparked from their school trip on the Swan.”

He said has visited some “amazing places and met some amazing people” through the Swan.

Ian also paid tribute to the late Allister Rendall, who passed away last year.

“I had known Allister for a long time, and he was one of the original team who had the vision to return the Swan to Shetland, have her restored, and provide the means to give the young people in Shetland and further afield the chance to experience sailing,” he said.

“He also encouraged me to first become involved in working with the Swan, and I have never looked back. So thank you, to Allister, and everyone I have met and worked with over the years, and I look forward to working with friends, old and new, to continue to care for and sail our unique historic vessel – the Swan.”

National Historic Ships director Hannah Cunliffe said: “I am pleased that, thanks to the support of our sponsors the Marsh Charitable Trust, National Historic Ships UK is able to recognise the huge contribution that volunteers such as Ian Nicolson make in the maintenance and conservation of vessels on the National Registers.

“Ian’s story particularly caught the judges’ attention, with the years of commitment shown and the many tasks undertaken. Congratulations on a very well-deserved win.”

Ian will be formally presented with his award certificate at the Swan Trust end of season gathering on Friday (25 November). He will also receive a cheque for £750.

The Swan Trust SCIO relies on volunteers and a range of funding to help them care for and operate the Swan. More details can be found online.

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