On 15th July, under a cloudless blue sky, a ceremony was held at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth to dedicate the Vernon Monument. Gunwharf Quays occupies the former location of HMS Vernon, the home of clearance diving for almost 75 years.
The monument, a life-size sculpture of two Navy frogmen attending a British Mk17 moored mine, was made by Mark Richard FRSS and was installed in March 2020 but due to the Covid lockdown, it has not been able to hold the dedication ceremony until this year.
Our former Chairman, John Bevan, was part of the organising committee but sadly did not live to see the monument installed. He was recognised, along with others who also did not live to see the project to completion.
Guests travelled from far afield to attend the ceremony – from Australia, Hong Kong, USA, Canada and Singapore amongst other far-flung countries. Our current President, Surgeon Vice-Admiral Philip Raffaelli CB QHP FRCP also attended with his wife, as did our Chairman, Mike O’Meara, our Museum Director, Kevin Casey, museum volunteer John Dadd and John Bevan’s widow, Ann.
The ceremony was presided over by Rear Admiral ‘Paddy’ McAlpine CBE (RN Retd), who was the current highest ranking former Clearance Diving Officer and the service was conducted by the Rev. Ralph Barber.
After the ceremony a reception was held in the Old Customs House. The glorious weather capping off a perfect ending to a splendid day.