16 March 2012
Local Solicitor Secures Coveted Place in Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant
The afternoon of Sunday 3rd June will see a thousand boats gather on the river Thames in celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. It will be the largest flotilla in modern times on the river with rowing boats, working boats and pleasure vessels of all shapes and sizes beautifully dressed with streamers and Union Jacks, stretching for an estimated twelve and a half miles.Amongst the select flotilla will be Iris O’Faith, a 52 ft, 30 ton, one-time RNLI lifeboat which has been beautifully maintained and is now owned by Guy Thompson, a partner at local law firm, Prettys.
Places in the pageant were highly sought after, with three boats applying for every space. The organisers and representatives from the river community were involved in the selection process which included considering safety, fitness-for-purpose and range of vessel type as well as exploring whether the vessel was of historical significance or had an interesting story to tell. At the end of 2011, organisers confirmed to applicants the lucky boats which will take part in this historic event.
Iris O’Faithwas built in 1960 and started life as the John & Frances MacFarlane having been donated to the Aith Lifeboat Station by the couple’s biscuit company (now part of United Biscuits). She remained at this most northerly lifeboat station until 1986. It was a subsequent owner who re-named the ex-RNLI lifeboat after his wife, Iris, and used a play on the words ‘of Aith’ to complete the boats new name - ‘Iris O’Faith’.
Guy Thompson continues the story: “I bought the boat in 2004 and it has since become a real passion for me. I have spent many hours repairing and modernising her. My work at Prettys and my family life mean I only have a limited amount of time to devote to IrisO’Faith, so the modernisation was essential to reduce the maintenance time needed to keep her running properly.”
The diamond Jubilee Pageant will see vessels proudly take their place in the flotilla alongside Her Majesty the Queen and other members of the Royal Family who will be aboard the Royal Barge, The Spirit of Chartwell.
Guy Thompson said: “I am delighted that Iris O’Faith has been selected to take part in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant. This will be a once in a lifetime moment and the pageant promises to be a truly spectacular event.”