A STALWART volunteer who joined the hunt for the Mary Rose in 1966 has been given a National Lottery Local Legend Award, as the game celebrates its 25th birthday.
Maurice Young, 90, won the prize for his efforts to locate King Henry VIII’s Tudor warship and subsequently volunteer at its Portsmouth museum.
Known by friends as Morrie, he joined the hunt for the vessel after meeting military historian Alexander McKee at a lecture in Hamble.
When Mr McKee learned Morrie was a shipwright and a diver, a connection was struck – and he joined his mission to find the ship.
Mr Young now volunteers at the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard every week, where pals call him a 'fountain of knowledge’.
Sally Tyrrell, head of development at the Mary Rose, said: ‘He epitomises the Mary Rose story.
‘A feat of human endeavour – from those who lost their lives, to those who rediscovered, excavated and raised the ship and artefacts – to today’s crew who care for her for future generations. He is a remarkable individual who richly deserves this award.
‘We are all honoured to know him and absolutely thrilled he has been recognised in this way. He is our legend too.’
An ear injury meant Mr Young could not dive when Mary Rose was raised on October 11, 1982, so he watched on from a BBC boat instead.
But his memories of dives in search of the ship and her artefacts, of which 19,000 are now displayed, remain as clear as day – especially one.
Mr Young said: ‘The one dive I remember more than any other was when we discovered the stern post of the ship. All I could see was timbers standing out of the sea bed.
‘That was important because it wasn’t until you could see something that had been horizontal or vertical on the ship you knew you’d found her.
‘I was standing at the bottom of a massive crater the boys had dug in the sea bed looking at this great big piece of wood with the gudgeons [socket-like fittings] for the rudder.’
It was Mr Young who taught the late archaeologist Margaret Rule to dive. She was the person in charge of the project to raise the Mary Rose.
After jokingly asking Mr Young to collect her whelks each time he would dive to inspect the ship, he gave his critique of her very first descent.
‘Yes – and I’m happy you can collect your own whelks,' he told her.
Mr Young said it is tales like this that have made his decades-long commitment to the Mary Rose so special.
‘One of the things that was so noticeable on the diving team was the camaraderie,’ he said.
‘That same camaraderie is still here today among the volunteers and staff at the museum.
‘As well as pride I feel privileged to have been part of it [the quest to find and raise the Mary Rose] and to still be part of it, the privilege comes from being associated with such nice people – from the diving team to the people I work with today.’
Actor Hugh Bonneville visited the Mary Rose Museum in July after it was named a finalist for best National Lottery-funded heritage project in the game's 25th birthday awards.
The ship sank in the Solent in 1545 and its raising remains the world’s largest underwater maritime archaeological excavation ever undertaken.