Guernsey Press

Islander recognised for maritime heritage efforts

A Guernseyman’s efforts to revive the island’s maritime heritage have earned him a place among 134 new members of the prestigious Churchill Fellowship.

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Marcel Lenormand. (33387503)

Marcel Lenormand approached Guernsey Museums & Galleries last year with aspirations to save some key features of the past, such as stories of Guernsey’s involvement with the coffee trade and the global impact of the island’s traditional garment, the guernsey.

‘We have the most rich and dramatic maritime heritage, yet hardly anybody knows about it,’ said Mr Lenormand.

‘Why do Australian football teams wear T-shirts called guernseys? Because the wool to make our traditional garments used to be imported from Australia and our knitted wares were sent in return. The name stuck and is still used today.

‘William Le Lacheur opened up the coffee trade for Costa Rica and on one of his voyages saved the country from invasion. William and his heritage are celebrated in Costa Rica, but he is barely recognised in Guernsey.’

The Churchill Fellowship is made up of more than 4,000 fellows from across the UK, representing numerous professions, who have a common aim of inspiring change based on global learning.

It will fund Mr Lenormand’s work, which will see him travel to France, Canada, the USA and Australia, starting at the maritime festivals of Brest and Douarnenez in Brittany next month.

‘I would argue that the most fundamental story that makes us who we are is that of the sea,’ said Guernsey Museums & Galleries senior curator Matt Harvey.

‘However, much practical knowledge of this period has been lost to the passage of time, particularly the skill of local, traditional boat design and construction and our ancient ability to sail these vessels.

‘Inevitably, with the modernisation of sea travel over the past century or more, the ancient skills practised by our ancestors became less relevant. But they are an amazing and fundamental part of us, who we were and who we still are.’

Other issues which are a focus of this Fellowship include combatting racism in nursing, making towns and cities greener and using artificial intelligence to support reading in dementia care.