Tribute to important figure in Hartlepool’s maritime history

David McKnight (left) with members of Captain David Smith's family (left to right) Ric, Chris, Nicki Smith, Ian Drummond and Mark Smith. Picture by FRANK REID
David McKnight (left) with members of Captain David Smith's family (left to right) Ric, Chris, Nicki Smith, Ian Drummond and Mark Smith. Picture by FRANK REID

EIGHTY people paid a moving tribute to an important figure in Hartlepool’s history.

Under a searing sun, family, friends and former colleagues gathered on HMS Trincomalee to remember the trust president.

Captain David Smith died in Malta after a short illness aged 86, in March this year.

Sunday’s moving ceremony was more of a celebration of his life and HMS Trincomalee Trust general manager David McKnight said: “It was quite a memorable occasion.”

It started with bugler Steve Harvey giving the alert. He also played Sunset at the end.

Volunteer organist Peter Craddy, once the ship’s electrician, also performed while Ian Schofield was the sound engineer.

The ship’s chaplain, Rev Chris Collison of St Hilda’s Church in Hartlepool, gave the welcome and led the service which included the hymns Guide me, O thou great Redeemer; Eternal Father, strong to save; and The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended.

A reading from Psalm 107, verses 1-5 and 23-32: was given by Commodore Paul Sutermeister, followed by a tribute from Colonel Michael Stewart.

A prayer of thanksgiving and a blessing completed the service.

Mr McKnight paid tribute to the “eclectic mix” of people who came along to pay tribute to Capt Smith, including some who had been part of HMS Trincomalee’s original restoration, maritime history experts, trustees and members of Capt Smith’s own family.

The ship’s ensign was among the flags to fly at half mast.

Mr Smith played a key role in the restoration of the ship.

The trust raised more than £10.5m for the work, which took 11 years, at least 750,000 man-hours of skilled work were needed and saw over £8m pumped into the local economy in wages and purchases.

The ship’s name was restored to her original of HMS Trincomalee in 1992. In 2010, the ship became the first affiliate of the National Museum of the Royal Navy.

Mr Smith retired as chairman in 2000, after 24 years in the post, when the restoration was largely complete, and handed over to Colonel Michael Stewart who had been his vice-chairman.

Mr McKnight said Capt Smith’s family had indicated they enjoyed the day. “They felt they had been among friends and indeed they were.”