Whistle-stop tour for HMS Montrose crew

Commander Jonathan Lett and some of the HMS Montrose crew are pictured presenting their �1,000 cheque to Dorward House manager Coral Shepherd and residents.'Staff photograph
Commander Jonathan Lett and some of the HMS Montrose crew are pictured presenting their �1,000 cheque to Dorward House manager Coral Shepherd and residents.'Staff photograph

HMS MONTROSE could make a return visit to its namesake town in 2014, the ship’s commanding officer has said.

Commander Jonathan Lett, who has commanded the type 23 frigate for the last 32 months, said the interval between visits is representative of the ship’s busy schedule but emphasised that its crew is keen to maintain its links with the town which bears its name.

Commander Lett and several of the crew spent three days last week in the Montrose area on a whistle-stop tour of their partner organisations. During their visit they dropped in to Dorward House, one of the ship’s adopted charities, to have tea with residents and present a cheque for £1,000.

During their recent six-month deployment to the South Atlantic, crew members raised £5,000 for a variety of organisations with £1,000 also donated to the Angus Riding for the Disabled Association.

Fund-raising activities included an auction of promises, beard-growing competitions and Commander Lett even auctioned off the use of his bath - the only one on board.

He said: “It’s about putting something back into the community that supports us and these visits are a great opportunity to bring these young sailors up who serve on HMS Montrose so they can see where their money goes.

“We’re very proud of our links with Dorward House and everywhere we go I send them a postcard so they can keep track of our deployment, and for the residents it’s great. This time we covered 37,000 miles in six-and-a-half months and there’s a story for them there too.

“In 32 months I haven’t been able to bring the ship up to Montrose but we hope the next opportunity will be in 2014.”

Commander Lett’s busy schedule also included a call on the Lord Lieutenant of Angus, Georgiana Osborne, and lunch with Angus Provost Helen Oswald, while the party also visited Rosemount Primary School and Montrose Port Authority where they inspected the harbour’s recently completed deep water berths.

Welcoming the group to the port, chairman Nick Bradford said: “Montrose Port Authority has been going through a very dynamic phase over the last few years, and we are now very pleased to be able to offer ample deep water berthing for a ship the size of HMS Montrose.

“We have a lot of investment and development happening on both side of the harbour, with £8 million spent on the new quay, and £14 million on a new grain handling facility.

“It would be our greatest pleasure to welcome HMS Montrose and her crew here when she can fit it into her schedule.”