Prince Harry to meet campaigners fundraising for HMS Vernon statue at Gunwharf
PRINCE Harry will today meet charity campaigners raising money to install a monument in Portsmouth recognising Royal Navy diving and mine disposal teams.
Acting in his role as Commodore-in-Chief, Small Ships and Diving, Royal Naval Command, Harry will meet campaigners from Project Vernon at a reception in central London.
The charity hopes to install a sculpture in Gunwharf Quays, where the training site HMS Vernon was once based, and has raised more than two-thirds of its £325,000 target.
HMS Vernon, originally established as the Royal Navy’s Torpedo Branch to serve as part of its floating base, was moved ashore after the First World War.
The training base was home to the mining and torpedo schools and later the branches of clearance diving and mine warfare were developed, preparing a force of minesweepers, minehunters and dive teams.
It remained in Portsmouth until 1996, when it was divided into different commands.
Designed by Australian sculptor Les Johnson, the bronze statue will show a Navy diver placing an explosive on a mine and will be the first to commemorate HMS Vernon’s history and the work of its present and past personnel, of which 23 won the UK’s second highest honour for gallantry, the George Cross.
Harry will host the reception ahead of the Vernon Monument ‘Falklands 35’ Charity Dinner, which will mark the 35th anniversary of the 1982 Falklands War and will be attended by several veterans.