MORE than three million people flocked to visit HMS Warrior under the leadership of Commander Ken Jones.
Now, the historic warship’s former captain has become the third ever British recipient of a prestigious award in recognition of his hard work.
Cdr Jones, 67, from Chichester, has been presented with the William J Diffley award by the US-based Historic Naval Ships Association.
He said: ‘I see it as an award, not just for me, but for the people that have worked and volunteered with us as well.
‘If they’re happy, they tell the people who visit us what they want to hear and do everything with a can-do attitude.
‘It’s fantastic and I could only do what I did if all the people who worked here with me did their jobs properly and cheerfully.’
Cdr Jones was Warrior’s captain and chief executive for eight years until Cdr Tim Ash took over earlier this year.
Cdr Jones becomes only the third person to receive the award outside North America since it was established in 1991.
Association president Patricia Rogers said Cdr Jones had kept the ship in excellent condition.
She said: ‘It was during his time as the CEO that he was able to secure funding from a generous benefactor that allowed the restoration of the ship’s sick berth.
‘Additionally, during his time in command, Warrior welcomed over three million visitors from around the world.’
Cdr Jones’s team also won a £2m Heritage Lottery Fund grant to repair and restore the ship’s bulwarks.
Warrior Preservation Trust chairman Rear-Admiral David Bawtree said: ‘Ken made an enormous contribution in getting the message about Warrior across to people and you see that by the popularity of this ship.
‘We are the most popular attraction in the naval base, and that’s something we’re very proud.’
The William J Diffley award is presented to people and organisations who have made a major contribution to the preservation and exhibition of historic naval ships.