NHS UK Baner        Marsh Trust


The Marsh Volunteer Awards recognise outstanding volunteers in the conservation or operation of historic vessels in the UK.  Volunteers are the lifeblood of the sector with many vessels depending on them to keep going.  These Awards, run in partnership with the Marsh Charitable Trust, celebrate the hard work and achievement of the many diverse individuals and groups who volunteer in support of maritime heritage.

There are four Award categories: Group, Individual, and Shipshape project – for projects listed on NHS-UK’s Shipshape Network.  Cash prizes of £750-£1000 are supported by the Marsh Charitable Trust and can be spent however the volunteers choose. 

WINNER: Marsh Volunteer of the Year - Group

Friends of Lady Daphne (FOLD) - Charlestown, Cornwall

There were many strong contenders for this year’s group award, but the Friends of Lady Daphne’s application really stood out for the judges with volunteers who had contributed to every aspect of the organisation’s work – from visitor services, promotional activities, events and music, children's activities, overall management, and hands-on maintenance. 

Built by Short Brothers of Rochester, Kent, in 1923, Lady Daphne was one of the very few wooden barges built after the First World War. During half a century of trading as a coasting barge she carried cargoes such as china clay, Portland Stone, cement and grain between ports around the east and south coasts of England. In summer 2022, her owners relocated from Kent back to Cornwall where Lady Daphne once operated, and she is now based at the historic Charlestown Harbour where she is available for static event hire while restoration work continues. Lady Daphne celebrates her centenary this year.


WINNER: Marsh Volunteer of the Year - Individual

Colin Barton, The Excelsior Trust - Lowestoft, Suffolk

The Individual Marsh Volunteer Award goes to Colin Barton from The Excelsior Trust.  Colin saved Excelsior from ending up on the rocks outside the harbour when a new throttle installation failed.  He spent two hours holding down the throttle manually while other crew members operated the gears, allowing the skipper to manoeuvre the vessel safely back to port.

Excelsior is one survivor from a thousand first class smacks that worked the North Sea from East Coast ports in the late 19th century. She had a dramatic World War II history while based in Norway, including being attached from the air by German bombers. Back in the UK and under new ownership, Excelsior was commissioned as a sail training vessel by HRH the Princess Royal in 1988 and completed a circumnavigation of Britain in 1989. The Excelsior Trust which now operates the vessel was set up to keep alive the knowledge and sustainable technology of Lowestoft smacks.  Since 1989 when her restoration was completed, she has been taking people of all ages and backgrounds to sea to experience their maritime heritage first-hand. 

Colin Barton

WINNER: Marsh Volunteer of the Year - Shipshape Project (awarded jointly)

The Volunteers of the Sutton Hoo Ship’s Company - Woodbridge, Suffolk

This year, the Shipshape Award is shared jointly between two very different projects whose volunteer teams tirelessly give their time to bringing heritage alive.  

Firstly, the volunteers of the Sutton Hoo Ship's Company, a team of 120 volunteers, all of whom have dedicated roles, working to the common goal of building a full-size and authentic replica of the famous Saxon ship at Sutton Hoo.  Buried in the 7th century within the Sutton Hoo royal burial grounds and discovered in 1939, the ship was a mere shadow of its former awe-inspiring glory.  The Ship’s Company team is made up of professionals, volunteers and enthusiasts who are working together to build the Saxon ship using authentic ship-building methods with the help of marine archaeologists, ship architects, shipwrights, and experts in green wood working.  In addition to the boatbuilding team, volunteers also cover research, recording, marketing, fundraising, and front-of-house duties, freely giving hours of their time to ensure the success of this exciting and innovative project.  The ship is being built in the Longshed, a purpose-built unit gifted to the town of Woodbridge, and dedicated to maritime history and education.  

Sutton Hoo

WINNER: Marsh Volunteer of the Year - Shipshape Project (awarded jointly)

The Pilgrim of Brixham Volunteers - Brixham, Devon

The Pilgrim of Brixham volunteers are a group seen as the guardians of a historic vessel, keeping it afloat for future generations to enjoy.  Using traditional techniques and skills, they strive to preserve and maintain the 125-year-old fishing trawler in operational condition.  Offering hospitality and a sailing experience to all visitors, they have fostered a deeper appreciation for maritime history amongst the public and instilled a sense of pride in the local community.  

Pilgrim fished out of Brixham from 1900 until 1912, when sold to Swedish owners.  During the Second World War she smuggled guns from Denmark to Norway for use by the Special Operations Executive and Norwegian resistance groups.  Pilgrim was rebuilt as a private sailing yacht in the 1960s, and again as a charter vessel in 1987-89.  In 1999 she was purchased and brought back to Brixham to be converted back to her original function as a sailing trawler.  Following a 2004 survey, a 4 year Heritage Lottery funded complete rebuild was completed in 2013.  Since then, Pilgrim has been sailing with guests in and around the South West coast, Isles of Scilly, Channel Islands and Brittany.  Open to the public throughout the summer months for free tours, the Pilgrim Heritage Sailing Foundation is run wholly by volunteers with income used to sustain operations and sound maintenance of the vessel.  Pilgrim promotes the fishing and boat building heritage of Brixham and traditional sailing skills.