Bench dedicated to Duke of Edinburgh officially unveiled in Sleaford

A bench dedicated in memory of HRH Prince Philip was unveiled in a ceremony by the town council on Friday.

Sleaford Royal Naval Association and Mayor Coun Linda Edwards-Shea with the memorial bench to Prince Philip and the spade he used to plant the tree on his visit.
Sleaford Royal Naval Association and Mayor Coun Linda Edwards-Shea with the memorial bench to Prince Philip and the spade he used to plant the tree on his visit.

The bench has been sited beside The Sleep Shop and the footbridge, overlooking a tree that was planted by the Duke of Edinburgh during a visit to the town on July 1, 1975.

The commemorative spade for the tree planting is kept in Sleaford Museum.

Sign up to our daily LincolnshireWorld Today newsletter

Mayor of Sleaford, Coun Linda Edwards-Shea cut the ribbon after an announcement by town crier John Griffiths.

The memorial bench and spade.

The bench, bought by the town council marks the death of the Queen’s consort on April 9 last year, aged 99, and for visitors to sit, rest and enjoy the views of the river.

Coun Edwards-Shea said the unveiling marked his 101st birthday. Dedicating most of his life to public service, this included pioneering the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme and promoting campaigns to protect the environment.

The ceremony then moved to the HMS Sheldrake Room at the Town Hall for a presentation of a book, on permanent load, by representatives of the Sleaford branch of the Royal Naval Association to the Mayor, on behalf of Sleaford Town Council. It was presented by Alan Harris, the branch’s oldest member, who is a D-Day veteran.

Garry Titmus, from the branch, explained the book is the memoirs of Gerard Clarkin, a Royal Navy Signalman, who had served on HMS Sheldrake, a Corvette which became Sleaford’s adopted ship in the Second World War, and he dedicates a chapter to his fond memories of her.

Mayor Coun Linda Edwards-Shea with Alan Harris of the Sleaford branch of the Royal Naval Association with Gerard Clarkin's memoirs and the HMS Sheldrake display.

Mr Titmus said it saw work escorting convoys and protecting against German E-Boats.

"Mr Clarkin also recorded that he was one of the party of the ship’s company who travelled from Immingham to Sleaford in 1942 to meet the Mayor and to thank the town for their contributions to the ship. The residents of Sleaford and East Kesteven collected the huge sum of £134,000 towards the upkeep of the ship.”

In 2017, to mark the 75th anniversary of Warships Week, the council named a room after the ship and has on display, as well as the model, two large ship’s crests and other items linked to the ship.

Coincidentally, Prince Philip was Godfather to a daughter of the Sheldrake’s commanding officer, Lt Roland ‘Basher’ Watkins.