CELEBRATIONS were in full swing as a boatbuilding college marked the successful completion of its first restoration project.
Students, tutors and trustees at the International Boatbuilding Training College (IBTC) in Portsmouth cheered as they launched Isabell II yesterday.
The 21ft vessel arrived at the college’s HQ, in Boathouse 4, 18 months ago desperately in need of some tender loving care.
Since then, the college has worked hard to give the 70-year-old vessel a new lease of life.
And to mark the occasion, Octavia O’Reilly, the last surviving daughter of the boat’s original owner, Dr Edward Andreae, was in attendance. Mrs O’Reilly, who poured some champagne on the boat’s hull with nephew Hugo Andreae, said: ‘Our family has had so many happy times on her.
‘I think the IBTC has done a marvellous job and I hope the students carry on with their craft.’
The ceremony was also a chance to celebrate the achievements of the college’s students.
Becci Haigh, 30, of Portsmouth, clinched the Most Accomplished Student award – the top accolade at the centre.
She gave up her career as an occupational therapist for a new life working on repairing boats.
Becci, who was among the students to work on Isabell II, said: ‘I’m quite shocked to be honest to have won the award.
‘The boys were always saying “prepare a speech because you’ve got it”. But I never expected it.
‘This is amazing. It’s just such an opportunity to be here and to be part of this.’
Isabell II was originally built in Cornwall and has been with the same family since 1947.
Hereward Drummond is one of the trustees at the IBTC.
Mr Drummond said the college was helping to keep traditional boatbuilding skills alive.
‘This is the first boat that we have taken in as a college and rejuvenated and relaunched,’ he said.
‘That’s a tremendous milestone for all of us to achieve. It’s been a huge team effort to get there.’
The college opened inside Boathouse 4 in 2015.
It has three intakes of students every year. For details, see ibtc.co.uk