Maritime leaders in Liverpool city region met with HRH The Princess Royal in Birkenhead where she was briefed on Mersey Maritime’s role in the UK’s Maritime 2050 project. Tony McDonough reports
HRH The Princess Royal, aka Princess Anne, met with leaders of Liverpool city region’s £4bn maritime sector in a visit to Birkenhead.
In her capacity as Patron of Maritime UK, Princess Anne met with Mersey Maritime chief executive Chris Shirling-Rooke and its policy and partnerships co-ordinator, Simon Eardley. Mr Shirling-Rooke is also assistant chair of Maritime UK.
They briefed her on the Mersey Maritime’s work as lead on the national regional cluster development programme which is delivered in partnership with Maritime UK and the Department for Transport.
This programme of activity sees the direct delivery of regional priorities identified in Maritime 2050, the long-term strategy for the industry launched in 2019. It is being rolled out around the entire coast of the UK.
Later she was shown around the site of the £23m Maritime Knowledge Hub project at the former hydraulic tower. This will be the centre-piece of a major innovation hub, part of Peel Land and Property’s Wirral Waters scheme.
Executive director, Peel L&P, James Whittaker, and Richard Mawdsley, director of development, briefed the princess on the full plans for the scheme before she had the opportunity to meet key stakeholders and a group of maritime industry related apprentices.
The visit took place on Friday, September 17 at the end of London International Shipping Week, one of the biggest events in the UK maritime calendar. Mersey Maritime was at the event and staged its own discussion sessions.
On the Friday evening, Mersey Maritime held its annual Maritime Industry Awards which saw almost 500 guests gather at Liverpool’s FC’s famous Anfield stadium. The Princess Royal delivered a video address during the event.
“After an intense week at London International Shipping Week and prior to our major industry awards, we were greatly honoured and privileged to receive such a high profile and senior visit,” said Mr Shirling-Rooke.
“Her Royal Highness has taken a keen interest in the work that Mersey Maritime leads on at a national level, spreading our best practice and vision for regional growth and powering up our coastal communities, in her role as Patron of Maritime UK.
“We were able to bring her fully up to speed on all the latest developments including the designation of the first Freeports, including here in the Liverpool city region, and the launch of a dedicated Coastal Communities Manifesto in London the day before.
“We were delighted to be able to give the opportunity to some of our key member businesses to meet Her Royal Highness. After such a challenging year owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was a fitting way to pay tribute to all the work that our industry has done to keep the country fed, fuelled and supplied, including with vital medical supplies.”
Richard Mawdsley, Director for Development at Peel L&P’s Wirral Waters, said: “As Maritime UK’s Patron, we were very pleased to be able to show Her Royal Highness the plans for this iconic building that will act as a catalyst for the growth of the UK’s maritime sector.
“The Wirral has a proud heritage as a gateway to the world’s oceans and the development of the Maritime Knowledge Hub will continue that heritage long into the future.”