BEckett Rankine logo

The 2024 Martyn Heighton Award is open to nominations from Tuesday 2 - Tuesday 30 April. 


The Excellence in Maritime Conservation Award was launched in 2019, in honour of our late Director, Martyn Heighton.  Martyn was a passionate champion for the maritime heritage community, supporting historic vessel projects of all sizes.  Amongst many new initiatives he launched, Martyn was directly responsible for the publication of Understanding Historic Vessels - a 3-volume series which looks at the methodology for recording and deconstructing historic vessels, as well as setting down key principles in ship conservation to build consistency across the sector.

The third volume, Conserving Historic Vessels, has become the bible for any historic vessel custodian embarking on the difficult journey of funding and planning a sustainable future for their craft.  It is now recognised internationally and is used by grant giving bodies, including the National Lottery Heritage Fund, as a way of determining understanding and viability in vessel-related funding applications.  It also forms the core of the NHS-UK distance learning course in Historic Vessel Conservation and underpins the NHS-UK small grants scheme, where applicants are asked to consider and state which conservation route they will be following.

The Martyn Heighton Award for Excellence in Maritime Conservation is awarded to the individual, organisation or group that best demonstrates the principles set down in Conserving Historic Vessels and whose outputs the judging panel feels are most closely aligned with the dedicated and persistent approach that Martyn applied to all historic vessel projects during his lifetime.


A special trophy was commissioned for this Award using funds donated at Martyn’s memorial service.  It incorporates wood removed from HMS Victory during the restoration and gifted to NHS-UK courtesy of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, in recognition of Martyn serving as first chair of the HMS Victory Technical Committee.  The trophy was made by Andy Peters of Maritima Woodcarving.  Winners will have their name engraved on the plaque and have the option to display the trophy at their site or receive a set of professional photos of the engraved trophy for online promotion. 

In addition to the main trophy, there is a cash prize of £500 for the Winner and £250 for the Runner-Up, courtesy of Beckett Rankine.


The Excellence in Maritime Conservation Award is open for nominations from 2-30 April 2024.  Expressions of interest can be submitted via the online form by an individual or organisation, or by a third party on their behalf.


Nominations are welcomed for individuals, organisations, or groups believed to have contributed to the successful conservation of a historic vessel on the National Historic Ship Registers or a project within the Shipshape Network

The submission can be made for any conservation project which has been completed or reached a major milestone within the last two years.  Vessels which have been stabilised or undergone significant maintenance work to the guidelines set down in ‘Conserving Historic Vessels’ are also eligible to apply.

The Award is open to all forms of vessel custodian such as private owners, museums, charitable organisations, and Shipshape Network projects, as well as other individuals, employees, consultants or companies who have been directly involved with conservation of a historic craft on the National Historic Ship Registers. 


Once your expression of interest has been received, you will be contacted by one of our Shipshape Network Hubs or by a member of this year’s Judging Panel.  They will arrange a site visit or online meet to find out more about your project and help us make a final assessment of this year’s winner.

Judges will be particularly looking for projects which clearly demonstrate the conservation approach that has been applied and the way in which the long-term future or a permanent record of the vessel has been secured. 

Please note that any data supplied with your nomination may be held by NHS-UK in perpetuity for archive purposes and kept on our electronic record system which is only accessible by authorised staff.  Submissions will be shared with our judging panel.  If you wish your details to be removed from our system at any time, please email:

Martyn Heighton