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Festival returns for 19th year marking Great Yarmouth's maritime heritage

Sponsors of this year’s Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival with Aileen Mobbs, centre, and Horatio the A popular event celebrating the rich seafaring history of Great Yarmouth is set to sail back into town this autumn.

For the 19th year the Maritime Festival, on September 8 and 9, will see the South Quay come alive with music, family entertainment and stalls, accompanied by a selection of boats moored up and ready to welcome visitors.

Sponsors had a taste of what is in store during Monday’s official launch on-board the Lydia Eva steam drifter.

Representatives from Seajacks, Bateman Groundworks, Stephenson Smart, Persimmon Homes, E.on, Boskalis (Gardline), Peel Ports, Elm Contracts, MDF Transport, Norse and Ikon Ambulance Services Limited, enjoyed a drinks reception, lunch and a tour of the vessel from the crew.

The first festival was staged in 2000 and typically features a packed programme of activities, exhibits, stalls, music and street entertainment, alongside the boats moored at the quayside.

Ever present steam drifter the Lydia Eva, a living museum of the herring fishery, will be open to visitors during the weekend, alongside a Belgian minesweeper “Bernisse”, a new addition this year, and the MTB 102 motor torpedo boat.

Also back by popular demand is the Triton owned by Boskalis (Gardline) and the George Stephenson, a new steam ship built using recycled or salvaged parts from other vessels and buildings.

During the weekend visitors will be able to hear the dulcet tones of shanty singers and indulge in a host of family and children’s activities.

This year’s theme in the Heritage Quarter is the commemoration of the end of the First World War, with support from the Norfolk Record Office and the Time and Tide Museum.

A poppy wall will be on display, suffragettes will be milling around and the Cinema Bus will be back with footage from the war and how it affected Great Yarmouth.

There will also be a focus on the drive to remove plastic from the sea, led by Natural England, the RSPB, Norfolk Wildlife Trust and the Broads National Park.

Seajacks has been the main sponsor for the past 10 years, while Stephenson Smart and Boskalis (Gardline) have been sponsors since the show’s inception.

Blair Ainslie, managing director of Seajacks, described the Maritime Festival as a key event on the town’s calendar.

“Great Yarmouth’s maritime history is extremely important and it’s imperative that we celebrate that and showcase it.

“We have sponsored the event for the past decade simply because it encapsulates such a lot of what the town is about – the history and the heritage, the work ethic and maintaining tradition.”

Michelle Skeet from Stephenson Smart said she and her colleague Sue Allard run a stall every year at the festival.

“We absolutely love doing it. We have a lot of fun and people really engage with the activities we provide. It’s become an event that we look forward to every year as its run so well and is so community orientated.”

The launch was tinged with sadness as Aileen Mobbs announced she was hanging up her skipper’s cap after 19 years at the helm as festival chairman.
She said the show will go on to its 20th year in 2019 without her input.

“I have decided that it is time to step down. I’m very proud of what we have achieved over the years and hope that people will continue to support the event.
“The team have worked so tirelessly, they really have gone above and beyond and their contribution can never be underestimated.”

The event is staged by the Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement Area as part of its aim to attract visitors.