Northamptonshire St John Ambulance canal boat to cruise with Queen in Thames Jubilee celebration

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A CANAL boat that normally gives pleasure cruises to the elderly and disabled in Northamptonshire has been picked to accompany the Queen’s personal vessel in her Diamond Jubilee pageant on the River Thames.

The Mountbatten Crusader, which is owned and run by St John Ambulance Northamptonshire, is usually found moored at Blisworth Marina on the Grand Union Canal in the south of the county.

But its boatswain, Dan Reid, heard in 2010 about the mass flotilla of 1,000 vessels that will accompany the Queen’s specially-built rowbarge, Gloriana, and her own personal barge on their procession, to mark her 60th year on the throne, and applied.

Earlier this month he was told by the Pageant Master, Adrian Evans, that the Mountbatten Crusader and a small crew had been selected to be vessel 104 in the historic event, which will be seen by millions across the world on television.

Mr Reid said: “I thought it would be a wonderful way of showcasing what the crew and volunteers do to a huge audience and I’m so proud to have been picked.

“It’s given me a whole mountain of paperwork which I’m only too happy to wade through.

“I’m so elated; I don’t think I’ll ever come down from this feeling.”

The boat has carried more than 16,000 people over the 16 years she has been in service on the River Nene

As well as giving cruises to pensioners and disabled people, the specially-adapted boat is also used to train school children and students in water safety and first aid.

It is normally repainted only every two years, meaning the work, plus more on the engines, will need to be brought forward for the Mountbatten Crusader to be Thames-worthy by the summer.

The pageant will travel from near Battersea Bridge to Tower Bridge and will be made up of barges, narrowboats, rescue vessels, ‘Little Ships’ from the historic Dunkirk rescue, a paddle steamer canoes, kayaks and sailing boats as well as the two Royal vessels.

Mr Reid said: “We know that we carry the name of the charity but also the county with us in front of such a big audience and how big a responsibility that is.

“We want to do the best we can to do Northamptonshire proud.”