'My Tall Ships memories of the Prince'

Torbay Weekly

Long-serving politician and former Torbay mayor Gordon Oliver met Prince Philip at one of the resort's - and country's - biggest sporting and sailing spectacles.

Gordon was still at school when Prince Philip opened the Tall Ships event in Torbay in 1956. But he played a leading role when the Duke returned in 2006 for the 50th anniversary of the race, working closely with the Sail Training International Association and organising local maritime events.

Gordon, now 77 and who spent 42 years in public service, said: "Prince Philip was able to perform the opening ceremony in 2006 on board Royal Navy ship in the Bay."

Gordon and others were on board a yacht owned by Grand Hotel owner Keith Richardson.

He remembers: "There was a line-up on Torquay harbour to greet the Duke and he came and he talked to us. We talked about the race."

Also in the line-up was then hotels leader Linda Hill, Royal Torbay Yacht Club commodore Robert Horne, Mr Morgan from TDA and then Liberal Democrat leader the late Gordon Jennings.

The first Tall Ships' race from Torquay to Lisbon in 1956 was a race of 20 of the world's remaining large sailing ships. It and was meant to be a last farewell to the era of the great sailing ships. But public interest was so intense the Sail Training International association was founded to direct the planning of future events and Tall Ships' Races have since taken place annually all over the world.

Gordon has a souvenir brochure of the 2006 event.

There were 87 ships taking part. The starting line was four miles long.

Of the Prince, he said: " He was a very talented man. He has made a superb impression on us and we shall miss him. He set examples for many others to follow."

Bygones attraction owner Richard Cuming also has fond memories of the Queen and Prince Philip when they visited the Bay together in the summer of 1988.

"I was fortunate enough  to be invited to Torre Abbey , Torquay during their visit for the William and Mary  tercentenary celebrations," said Richard.