An Edinburgh man has been awarded the Merchant Navy Medal for going above and beyond the call of duty for his groundbreaking work in introducing apprenticeship schemes.
Ned Kelly was one of only 16 people to be given the award by the Princess Royal at a ceremony in London.
He is Chief Caterer with the Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB) and works on board NLB’s ship Polestar. Ned, who has been at sea for 48 years, has worked tirelessly to encourage apprenticeships within the Merchant Navy. For the last three years he has been part of the Merchant Navy Training Board’s Trailblazer Group, developing a new seagoing apprenticeship.
He said: “I’m delighted with this award. I didn’t expect it at all and feel very humbled that I should be honoured in this way.
“An ageing workforce plus a shortage of British seafarers is affecting the whole of the British Merchant Navy and is likely to end up with a real skills shortage.
“Apprenticeship schemes are undeniably a great way to encourage younger people to enter the workforce.”
Ned joined NLB, whose headquarters are in Edinburgh, in June 1993 and was instrumental in achieving a Healthy Living award for the organisation, which at that time was a first for Scottish shipping.
He went on to develop a two week hospitality work experience programme with NLB, for catering students attending college.
Ned said: “NLB has taken on four apprentices who will have the opportunity to visit some of the most remote and scenic places in Scotland and the Isle of Man. It’s an amazing career and I’d encourage anyone to give it a go!”
NLB is the General Lighthouse Authority for the waters surrounding Scotland and the Isle of Man, and is responsible for the superintendence and management of all lights, buoys and beacons within this area. It currently operates 206 lighthouses, 167 buoys and 23 beacons.
Lighthouses are still regarded as important aids to marine navigation. However, mariners now have a wide choice of aids to navigation, ranging from satellite using Differential Global Positioning Systems, through integrated charting systems, radar beacons to buoys.
NLB is an expert in the safety of marine navigation and plays a vital role in developing and providing all these systems.