Fitting tribute to ‘Hayling legend’ who found Mary Rose

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HE was a legend of Hayling Island whose dogged determination resulted in the rediscovery of the Mary Rose.

So it is fitting that future generations will learn about the story of Alexander McKee OBE at the local library, just a stone’s throw from where he lived.

(l-r) Cllr Frank Pearce, Binky Hallett, and Cllr Keith Chapman. Picture: David Broomfield

(l-r) Cllr Frank Pearce, Binky Hallett, and Cllr Keith Chapman. Picture: David Broomfield

Yesterday there were cheers as a bronze bust of the late Mr McKee, who died in 1992, was unveiled at the Elm Grove library.

Mr McKee, a historian and diver, rediscovered the site of the wreck under the Solent silt in 1966.

It came after many years of searching, when he would recruit a team of weekend divers from the British Sub Aqua Club who became known as ‘Mad Mac’s Marauders’.

Defying doubters who said he was wasting his time, they eventually found ‘McKee’s Ghost Ship’ by digging trenches in the seabed 50 feet down.

The bust was made possible thanks to a grant of £4,000 from Hayling’s county councillor, Frank Pearce.

The bust pedestal is part of an old mooring post, paid for by a £400 grant from Hampshire County Council.

Mr McKee’s daughter Binky Hallett, who lives in Mengham, said she was ‘so proud’.

She added: ‘The bust is amazing. It’s a really good likeness of dad. Right from the beginning, when he was only 15, he saw it on a map, and he always was going to find her.

‘There were years that were very difficult and he just never gave up.’

Councillor Pearce said: ‘It’s very important to me because he is a Hayling legend.

‘If it wasn’t for his work in looking for the Mary Rose and finding her, she would still be at the bottom of the Solent.’

‘If you pat him twice on the head, you will get good luck.’

At the unveiling, Henry Yelf, who organises the Alexander McKee Memorial Fund, was thanked for his efforts.

Luke Shepherd, the sculptor, said: ‘If you look at the old stories, they are stories of the hero overcoming the difficult, finding something and achieving something. Having this bust, it marks in our mind that this man did something we can all aspire to.’

Earlier this year, a bronze bust of Mr McKee was unveiled at the Mary Rose Museum.