Tagged: essex

HMP Position Statement

The Harwich Mayflower and Heritage Project ( a new name) has recently released a Position Statement. I have taken the main points from it and posted them here. By the way, I did mention in a post a while back that they would probably be changing their name to something like “The Harwich Heritage Project” as they centered on Harwich history and not a ship build. I guess someone at the Project reads the blog. 🙂

Anyway, before highlighting the main points of the “Statement”. Let’s start with this little nugget which caught my eye:

 

The Trustees are aware that there are individuals who, for whatever reason, wish to undermine our Volunteers and the Charities work. This is expressed in letters to the press and in the content of the “Ships Blog”.

In the words of the immortal bard “methinks you doth protest too much”.

Looking for answers to questions (and not getting any) is not undermining anything. Local residents writing to newspapers and putting their point across is not a crime, nor is there anything wrong with it. Correcting misinformation supplied by The Project will not affect volunteers. In fact, Just because several local Harwich residents have the guts to actually make a stand and ask questions when something seems amiss, it does not mean that there is some kind of vendetta to undermine the Project. What it means is that there are people who may see something that seems not right and are willing to stand up and voice their opinion, even when shouted down. It is inherently wrong for a registered charity to denigrate the very people that they are looking to for support, the Harwich local community. Instead of being negative towards these local people, the Project should be welcoming them in and addressing their concerns and issues. They should be trying to show them that their perceptions are wrong and backing that up with concrete reasoning and facts and figures.

The very fact that the residents of Harwich are writing letters, trying to get answers, and submitting comments to this blog, would probably start alarm bells ringing for anyone wishing to undertake dealings with the Harwich Mayflower Heritage Project.

While the Project continues to be opaque, offers misinformation and refuses to answer the most basic of queries, there will always be members of the public wondering why that is so, whether it be in newspaper print, social media or via this blog. I can’t speak for the residents of Harwich, so I’ll speak for myself: As long as my backside faces the ground, I’ll keep exposing the misinformation and fake news that the Harwich Mayflower Heritage Project is so keen to promote.

 

The Trustees will respond respectfully to genuine complaints and criticism.

In other words “If you ask us something that we don’t want you to know, we wont tell you”

“Genuine complaints”?  Please note, counterfeit complaints will not be entertained in any way shape or form!

Well then, here’s a genuine complaint and criticism for the Project. Why do you continually refuse to inform the local Harwich people (and others)  as to what you have done with their generous donations? The donations have not gone on a ship build so where have they gone?

And another genuine (not made up) criticism. Why can you not make a plan and stick to it, why do you have to make things up as you go along and continually mislead the public that have so generously kept you afloat (pun intended) for so long?  The ship was going to take 36months to build (source: local press), then it was going to take 2 years and then it was going to take 2 years but not including “port visits” that no one had previously bothered to mention.  Your last cost estimate for a build a few months ago was 4 million, now all of a sudden it’s 10 million. What has changed in a few months that has cost an extra 6 million?

If it was “Always your intention to build a land based ship” can you please tell me where this was promoted and mentioned before now as I have scoured local press and online and can find no mention of it before this document.

I await your respectful response.

 

Here are the highlights of the Project Statement.

In recognition of his unstinting commitment and generosity to the project Tom Daly has been invited to become President of the Charity. The Trustees are delighted to welcome Tom into this role.

HURRAH!! I recently made a post thanking Tom Daly for all his hard work with the Project. I also said a few posts back that Tom Daly was a guiding light for the project and that Sean Day was not a suitable frontman. I asked for Mr Daly to be brought back. It would  seem that someone at the Project reads the blog.

 

We recognise that construction of an ocean going vessel is a significant undertaking and requires an investment of some £10m at today’s prices.

As I stated above, why the sudden increase to 10 million? Is it because I mentioned in a post a while back that the people at Mystic Seaport estimated a new Mayflower build would cost approx 10 million pounds and not the 4 million the HMP stated?  It would seem that someone at the Project reads the blog.

 

It was always the intention that once the seagoing vessel was built another would be constructed which would remain in Harwich. The Trustees have brought forward this commitment.

As I said, where was this intention made public? I mean, you haven’t just made it up on the spur of the moment to cover the fact that you wont be building a seagoing ship anytime soon… Have you? I did mention in a post a while back that I assumed the ship would probably end up being built in kit form or be a static build. It would seem that someone at the Project reads the blog.

 

The Station buildings are to be adapted to house two significant historic collections.

The Bob Clow collection of Rail Memorabilia.

 

The Hazelton Collection.

One would assume that these items are on loan and that Mr Clow and Mr Hazelton have obtained a signed contract from the Project stating that their items are on loan for a certain amount of time and that they remain their property. Also, regarding Mr Clow’s collection, an interesting point is that it was originally discussed way back in 2001 that Mr Clow was going to open a rail museum.  Click for original story in the Essex County Standard

 

The Trustees are committed to listening to the local community, the regular community meetings will continue and steering groups will be established to support initiatives across the organization. Times for this will be varied to allow access by as many people as possible.

Listening is one thing, acting on what you hear is another thing entirely. The last meeting was so poorly advertised that I’d be surprised if even the project staff knew when it was! I have always said in this blog that the Project needs to be more transparent in its dealings, and pay attention to the local community. It would seem that someone at the Project reads the blog. (Again!) Look guys, let’s cut out the middle man, why don’t you just ask me what direction you need to take, because it seems I can see into the future!

 

 

 

Feedback on latest meeting?

As you can see there is a list of comments from readers of  the blog over there on the right, and they are well worth a little read if you have time. The latest is as follows from “A resident” and refers to the recent community meeting.

Does anyone have any feedback on what happened at this meeting?

 

Being a totally transparent and responsible charity, one would assume that there would be something on their website, or social media, even a little “thank you to those who attended”. But as of this post, I can’t find anything at all.

Yet another Harwich Mayflower Project director resigns.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a company with a bigger turnover of directors!  The latest to “resign” (after less than 5 months) is Jeffrey Fidgett.

28th JUNE. UPDATE:

It has been pointed out to me that Mr Fidgett did in fact resign due to a serious health issue. I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of myself and the thousands of readers and subscribers of this blog to wish him well and send him best wishes for a speedy recovery.

July Update. Yes, I know it’s June.

I usually try to do a half yearly update, but seeing as I wont be around for most of July and August, I’ve decided to do this a little early. Apologies for the hurried nature of the post and any errors, but I’m literally heading out the door!

The year started off as the last one ended, with no work of any sort taking place on a ship build. The HMP is a group of people with no shipbuilding experience based in a railway yard. Their staff consist of no shipwrights, and as such there continues to be no work of any sort on a build since 2014, and the current “build” consisting of a rapidly rotting part hull which has been deemed unusable (see below) still sits forlornly in the Railway Yard.

January: The chairman (Tom Daly*) “stands down” and Vice Chairperson (Lynda Chase-Gardner) “resigns” from the Project. Blanket reasons of “ill health” and “busy” are cited after they have gone but not attributed to either person. There was no further comment on why they left. But apparently they are still “advisers” to the Project.

February: The Harwich Mayflower Project loses it’s USA charity status, stating that they had “let it lapse”.

 February: The Harwich Mayflower has its Annual General Meeting. Apparently it was a very ‘lively” debate with the HMP of course standing their corner and apparently evading several probing questions and refusing to actually give direct answers to direct questions. Basically no one was any the wiser after the event than before it. As one attendee at the AGM said to me “A lot of those guys have great futures as politicians when they move on”

March: A Harwich resident sends the following to the Blog:

I’ve spent a lot of time around the project, looking over the walls nearly everyday; and I for one can’t understand these random side steps in progression with this project. If it’s failing, just admit it’s failing. Every article for the last 4 years covering this “community project” has shown it to be some god awful parody of what it perceives itself to be, some nautical historical Disney land. where the truth can only be described as “Carry on across the Atlantic”. Everything that goes slightly off target with it just gets the official response of “tis but a scratch” even though it’s had its arms chopped off and is standing on stumps, (don’t worry it’s official mayflower oak stumps, felled from the most holy of oak trees). The loss of charity status may not detriment it’s laughable income in donations from across the pond, but it does effect it’s status on the global stage as an “official” charity that wants to take place in these global 400 year anniversary celebrations that should be “bigger than all of the olympics and world cup games put together”, according to my last tour. I only want this project to seriously succeed so that when or if The Donald ever steps foot on it; I can at least watch them both sink together knowing that our backwater little town actually did something positive for the world.

But in all seriousness, I know my dreams of seeing this actually work out will never succeed because how can we take this seriously if it can’t get even the big business local to harwich itself on board? Where are those giant cheques from Hutchinsons or Trinity House, Where’s the list of businesses the HMP are on as official registered charities to lend it credence? Any small little idea can become a registered charity here in the UK. As far as i can see this has less substance, less impact on the local area, and less continual support from local business and credibility than a cat sanctuary that gets a few tins of cat food a week from Asda.

March: The local Harwich and Manningtree Standard  newspaper runs the following story.

Local council says “Harwich Mayflower Project no longer a major part of Harwich 2020 celebrations”

April: Still no sign of a ship build and the “temporary” closure of the Training school is still in place.

May: The HMP hold an “Open Session” for members of the public. A professional examiner of shipbuilding training was present at the meeting and stated the following:

“The build is not likely, especially as the structure as it stands would not pass scrutiny. Thus the build would have to start from scratch and I can’t see that happening”

The Project stated that they have set a cut off date of May 2018, which will see the Project unable to build a ship. It was said that if this is the case, the Project will revert to “Promotional activities” for the 2020 anniversary.

Questions were asked at the meeting,  such as “why is there such limited information” and “why are the opening hours so erratic” but apparently, all questions were met with a bland and well rehearsed “We will address your concerns”

Pretty routine stuff, but apparently things heated up when a member of the public was heard saying “Sean Day (staff) and Robert Day (Trustee) are well known local wide boys who should not be encouraged to continue with their plans”.

June: The Project’s opening hours are cut from 9-5 to 9-1. Maybe a lack of visitors? Their “New” website goes live.  They decide to use a framework I provided in 2015 and refuse to give me any credit. (see earlier post)

June: Another Director (Jeffrey Fidgett) resigns.

As of this post, and with the project stating they will “abandon all plans to build a ship if they do not have funding by March 2018″, I have to say that my optimism for a build has been practically extinguished. The Project’s current literature does seem to focus less on a build and more on a future consisting of a Harwich Heritage project. But as usual, I try to remain cautiously optimistic. As it has now been announced that the Project will be building an on shore replica, (which I forecasted in an earlier post) I am of the opinion that within a few months there will be an announcement of non committal to the original idea of a seagoing replica and the HMP will become little more than a Harwich museum.

*Tom Daly was one of the originators of the Harwich Mayflower Project back in 2006 or so (I may be a few years out either way). During my 18 months at the Project as a volunteer, I saw a great deal of Tom and spent a lot of time in his company. He is, in my opinion, one of the most personable and likeable men it has ever been my pleasure to meet. With his Irish lilt and obvious charm, he quickly became the front man for the Project. He made numerous TV and radio appearances and was often quoted in print talking about the Project. It is he who when asked by a TV reporter what would have happened if the ship hadn’t sailed, replied “Turkeys would be safe!” His devotion to the Project and the people of Harwich is unquestioned. Of course, I have no idea why he stepped down, but I’d still like to mention him here.

Several years ago I sat in on a meeting which Tom headed, discussing the future of the project. Without divulging any personal or HMP details, it is fair to say that by the end of the meeting, Tom’s love of the Project was obvious. He was close to tears when talking about the future of the Project and made an offer to pay any future shortfall in wages for Project workers from his own pocket, should the need arise. That is the measure of the man. His only thought was for the people working at the HMP and their immediate futures. In my opinion, Tom Daly was always only interested in what he could give to the HMP and how it would benefit the people of Harwich. He had no thought of making anything out of it for himself. I know from first hand experience the amount of time Mr Daly spent at the Project and I would assume (although I have no knowledge of it) that he also spent a lot of money on the Project as well.

Bearing this in mind, I find it amazing, and to be honest, a little sad, that the Project has so far made no public announcement thanking him for all his hard work after he stepped down. So with that in mind, I would like to publicly offer my own thanks.

Tom, thank you for all the hard work, time, and energy you put into the Project over the last ten or so years. Your presence as an honest and straightforward talking gentleman was a huge benefit to the HMP and I imagine it will be sorely missed. It was a pleasure to have known you and to have spent time in your company and the Mayflower Project is all the worse for your moving on. While I remain cautiously optimistic for a ship build, I think that without someone like you with your obvious love for the Project at the helm, someone who didn’t see what was in it for him, someone who wanted nothing more than to see the Ship floating alongside Harwich pier, and someone who put others before himself, I believe the build will be so much harder to achieve.

Again, from an ex volunteer. Thank you for everything you did for the HMP and for Harwich.

Some comments about The Project.

I was going to put a few comments here, because although they are placed on the side bar over there, a lot of people still miss them. I’d advise you to have a look to gauge the general feeling of people, both here and in the US.  But, I received a comment a few hours back that I think is straightforward, pithy, and so very well written with lovely snatches of humour that it deserves a platform all of its own.

Crimsonseas, I salute you.

—————-

I’ve spent a lot of time around the project, looking over the walls nearly everyday; and I for one can’t understand these random side steps in progression with this project. If it’s failing, just admit it’s failing. Every article for the last 4 years covering this “community project” has shown it to be some god awful parody of what it perceives itself to be, some nautical historical disney land. where as the truth can only be described as “Carry on across the Atlantic”. Everything that goes slightly off target with it just gets the official response of “tis but a scratch” even though it’s had its arms chopped off and is standing on stumps, (don’t worry it’s official mayflower oak stumps, felled from the most holy of oak trees). The loss of charity status may not detriment it’s laughable income in donations from across the pond, but it does effect it’s status on the global stage as an “official” charity that wants to take place in these global 400 year anniversary celebrations that should be bigger than all of the olympics and world cup games put together, according to my last tour. I only want this project to seriously succeed so that when or if The Donald ever steps foot on it; I can at least watch them both sink together knowing that our backwater little town actually did something positive for the world.

But in all seriousness, I know my dreams of seeing this actually work out will never succeed because how can we take this seriously if it can’t get even the big business local to harwich itself on board? Where are those giant cheques from Hutchinsons or Trinity House, Where’s the list of businesses the HMP are on as official registered charities to lend it credence? Any small little idea can become a registered charity here in the UK. As far as i can see this has less substance, less impact on the local area, and less continual support from local business and credibility than a cat sanctuary that gets a few tins of cat food a week from Asda.

If anyone from HMP is reading this, perhaps it’s time you stop sniffing wood glue, you’re clearly more high than your neighbours in bathside.

——-

EDITORIAL COMMENT: This blog does not condone the sniffing of wood glue, or any other substances used to fix wood together. We might like a drink now and again on a Friday night, and maybe a bag of pork scratchings, but that’s where we draw the line… OK there was that one time when someone said I could get a buzz from licking a frog, but I’m not counting that.

Harwich Mayflower Project wins the cup!

Today the Harwich Mayflower project had a stand at the local county fair. The Tendring show is an agricultural event that takes place every year and attracts in the region of 25,000 visitors in a day.  The Mayflower Project was promoting itself and trying to raise awareness within the local community about what it does. Several of the staff as well as trustees and the Chairman, Tom Daly, were there.  The shipwrights were working on a piece of oak, while everyone else was handing out leaflets and talking to visitors about the Project. There were various competitions run throughout the day  and lots of ribbons were awarded. In fact, the Mayflower Project won first prize in the ‘Best Charity Stand’ category. Apart from a ribbon, they got a cup, which Tom Daly received on behalf of everyone at the Project. As usual I took hundreds of photos  and a small sample are below.

The images under the main photograph are a gallery, clicking on any one of them will open a slideshow for you. Photography and content: James Kelly.

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Tom Daly receives the Ford Cup from Tendring Show president, Judy King.