Princess Anne praises ‘labour of love’ at new Portsmouth galleries

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PRINCESS Anne praised the hard work behind a new multi-million pound dockyard attraction as she officially opened it to visitors.

The Princess Royal, a patron of the Portsmouth-based National Museum of the Royal Navy, spoke at the launch of the Babcock Galleries yesterday.

Princess Anne opens the Babcock Galleries. ''Picture: Ian Hargreaves (141796-1)

Princess Anne opens the Babcock Galleries. ''Picture: Ian Hargreaves (141796-1)

She described the efforts behind the new exhibition space as a ‘labour of love’ and praised those who have contributed to its success so far.

The galleries house an exhibition called HMS Hear My Story, which tells the history of the Royal Navy over 100 years using stories and artefacts from those involved.

Princess Anne said: ‘An awful lot of work has gone into this and the input will continue I’m sure.

‘It’s been a real labour of love and it has been widely supported.

‘We are really grateful to so many people for making such a personal investment in these buildings and the history here in Portsmouth and in the Royal Navy.’

The £4.5m exhibition includes scores of interactive displays and recounts the stories of more than 1,000 men and women who have served in the Royal Navy, and their families.

Matthew Sheldon, the project director for the exhibitions, said: ‘We are very lucky the Princess Royal has formally opened the exhibition today.

‘She has been a great supporter of us for three years in this project.

‘The exhibition is the story of the navy’s last 100 years.

‘We call the exhibition “HMS Hear My Story” and have taken a very particular approach where we use people’s personal stories to tell that history.’

One of those who contributed their stories was 91-year-old Dorrie Thomas, of Lee-on-the-Solent, a Wren telegraphist during the Second World War.

She met Princess Anne as part of yesterday’s event.

Mrs Thomas said: ‘It was wonderful to speak to her because she takes such a keen interest in the project.’

Earlier in the day, the royal visitor toured the inner workings of the naval base.