Former teen idol Tommy Steele honours retired mariners at Tower Hamlets charity's 170th anniversary
PUBLISHED: 10:09 02 August 2013 | UPDATED: 13:13 02 August 2013
Former teen idol Tommy Steele was on hand to honour retired mariners at a seaman's charity that pushed the boat out for its 170th anniversary celebrations.
The star of movie Half a Sixpence, now in his late 70s, awarded the six ageing seamen with medals including the United Kingdom Merchant Navy Veteran Badge and the Royal Navy Armed Forces Badge before an audience of more than 200 people.
A specially commissioned canvas by the son of one of the badge recipients, Barry Andrews, was also unveiled at the event at the Queen Victoria Seamen’s Rest (QSVR), East India Dock Road, Tower Hamlets, on Friday, July 26.
“We were delighted that Tommy Steele was able to share this day with us,” said Alexander Campbell, QVSR’s chief executive.
“It was a wonderful day and a fitting tribute to a charity that has served a community for 170 years.
“There was much laughter as people shared stories and anecdotes about this fine old East End landmark — may it grow and prosper for another 170 years.”
Tommy joined the Merchant Navy in 1952 — sailing on the Scythia, Queen of Bermuda, Rangitane and the Mauretania as a Steward — and is the incumbent vice president of the Federation of Merchant Mariners.
David Stannard, 89, Corstiaan Berghout, 89, Ahmed Suleiman, 92, and George Keen received the United Kingdom Merchant Navy Veteran Badge while Adan Awad and William Andrews were awarded the Royal Navy Armed Forces Badge.
The QSVR was founded in 1843 to address the needs of seafarers while they were on leave and today provides accommodation, welfare and support to some 170 men including ex-seafarers, ex-servicemen and others in need within the community.
A short film about the charity’s work, by film maker Cassius Rayner, was also shown as part of the celebrations.