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The Annual National Service for Seafarers

CCCC Jemma Swire-Thompson had the honour of meeting Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal at St Paul's Cathedral after the Annual National Service for Seafarers on Wednesday 12 October.


Head Girl meets HRH The Princess Royal after Annual National Service for Seafarers at St Paul’s Cathedral

By Alex Garnier

Jemma Swire-Thompson, Chief Cadet Captain of College 2022-23, had the honour of meeting Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal at St Paul’s Cathedral after the Annual National Service for Seafarers on Wednesday 12 October. 

Jemma, who also took part in September in Her Late Majesty The Queen’s State Funeral,  met Her Royal Highness because Pangbourne College always plays a key role in this National Service. This is because one of our College’s founders, Sir Thomas Lane Devitt, was a key figure in the creation and institution of the Annual National Service in 1905.

The Princess Royal often attends this Service, but this was the first one since the death of her mother,  Queen Elizabeth II, and the accession of her brother, His Majesty King Charles III. On her arrival at St Paul’s Cathedral a magnificent fanfare was sounded as she was received at the Great West Door by the Chapter, and the Lord Mayor of the City of London. 

The Service included four strong hymns: ‘All creatures of our God and King’, ‘Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us’, ‘Eternal Father, strong to save’, and ‘O praise ye the Lord!’. Our College Choir joined three other school choirs with a nautical heritage to sing Mendelssohn’s anthem, ‘Verleigh’ uns Frieden gnädiglich’ (with words by Martin Luther) and Vaughan Williams’s ‘Let all the world in every corner sing’ (with words by George Herbert).

The sermon was given by former Bishop of Plymouth and High Sheriff Designate of Devon, The Right Reverend Nicholas McKinnel. He had been asked to preach at the 2020 Seafarers’ Service on the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrim Fathers, but that service was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic. In this year’s Service the Bishop referred to ‘the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom’ and the 40th anniversary of the liberation of the Falkland Islands.  Fifty Pangbournians participated in that conflict and, mercifully, survived.

The Service also included the National Anthem to King Charles III. It  ended with Louis Vierne’s spectacular final movement from Symphony No.1 on the organ played by Timothy Wakerell and wonderful music played by The Band of His Majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth. They played Walton’s ‘Crown Imperial’, ‘Seafarers!’ arranged by Michael McDermott, Holst’s ‘Jupiter’ from ‘The Planets’ (Op.32), and Henry Russell’s ‘A Life on the Ocean Wave’.

Mr Thomas Garnier, Head of Pangbourne College, said, ‘Our College community, young and old, were very thankful that after three years’ absence this Service took place. The Service always gives Pangbournians an opportunity to meet and support one another across the generations. 

‘It was  lovely, for example,  that Captain Robin Batt (Hesperus, 61-64), who is this year’s Master of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners, was able to meet Euan Mackenzie, Josh Bywater, and George Pearce, this year’s Colour Party, because both were involved in the procession in the Service.’



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