On a December Sunday, shortly before Christmas and the day after I had returned from boarding school in Britain, I was bundled into the family Mini Estate after early Church and breakfast.  Our destination, the Keep in Dockyard.  Our objective, continue clearing the Keep Yard and the ‘1850 Building’ in preparation for The Queen’s visit in February 1975.

My parents, Ian and Margaret, were some of the first members of the Bermuda Maritime Museum Association and, with other volunteers, worked throughout the autumn and winter of 1974/5 to clear, clean and prepare the Keep Yard to be the home of what is now the National Museum of Bermuda.  Family and friends were dragooned into a few hours’ work on weekends.  On this, my first visit, I remember having a hoe and a hacksaw thrust into my hands and being directed to a buried 64-strand copper power cable and told to excavate and sever what I could and bury the remainder.

No one was too young or too old.  Young ones provided refreshments to those working.  Older folks would weed, attack the overgrowing plants, prepare what became flower beds, or sand and paint.  I met and got to know some of the ‘founding fathers and mothers’ of the Museum: Jack and Cecilia Arnell, Smokey and Peggy Wingood, Rohan and Margaret Sturdy, Norman and Sheila Lishman, RAdm Maurice Grieg, Mrs Forster Cooper, and others whose names fail me, but are recorded in the Museum.  Young and old were committed to creating something for the community.  We had no idea how our work would be transformed over the next 50 years.

I returned to school, but my parents’ letters gave regular updates as the grounds and building neared their date with the Sovereign.

My parents told me that Governor Sir Edwin Leather had told them that of all the sites and events that The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh had visited and attended during their visit, it was the Maritime Museum that had captured their imagination.  No wonder that it featured on her subsequent visits.