World news story

Her Royal Highness,The Princess Royal Launches UK Charity's First Medical Ship on Lake Victoria

HRH Princess Royal launches new medical ship on Lake Victoria, accompanied by British High Commissioner.

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Her Royal Highness, the Princess Royal in Mwanza
Her Royal Highness, the Princess Royal in Mwanza

Her Royal Highness, the Princess Royal, patron of Edinburgh based charity, has launched the Vine Trust’s latest medical ship, an initiative that will be located on Lake Victoria in Tanzania. Vine Trust is a charity that supports some of the poorest children in the world.

Jubilee Hope will see 100,000 patients a year on islands with communities, which currently have little or no access to basic healthcare.

A former Royal Navy Tender, refitted as a medical ship with a small operating theatre and dental surgery, left Greenock, Scotland in January and sailed the long way around Africa to Mombasa, Kenya, manned entirely by Vine Trust volunteers.

The 160-ton vessel was then hauled from Mombasa to Kisumu requiring the movement of power lines and making of some new roads. She was re-launched after the three-week land crossing mid-September.

Her Royal Highness, the Princess Royal launched the facility as part of a tour of Vine Trust projects across Tanzania where she is meeting people who benefit from the ship’s medical services and vulnerable children supported in Vine Trust children’s centres. In her speech at a dinner in Mwanza, Tanzania she said:

“This is a huge achievement launched as a special initiative for Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee. There were a number of Diamond Jubilee Projects, but few that will reach such a number of people.

“Connecting people to change lives is at the heart of Vine Trust, and through this project we are connecting more people.

“I hope everyone involved feels proud of being a part of changing lives and will continue their involvement in the future. Vine Trust involve people for the common good and tonight will engender more discussion for the future.”

British High Commissioner Dianna Melrose also attended the launch lending her support as well.

“I am so impressed, not least by the physical feat of getting the ship to Lake Victoria. It is going to make a real difference to the lives of communities around the lake.”

Among a portfolio of businesses that have supported the project, Wood Group PSN (WGPSN), international energy services provider, has been involved in many of its stages.

James Crawford, WGPSN Africa managing director, spearheaded the organisation’s support of Vine Trust:

“At WGPSN, our core values are at the heart of everything we do and our involvement in this project gives us the opportunity to bring our social responsibility to life, whilst bringing our UK engineering expertise to Africa. We sent a volunteer team to Mombasa in Kenya to dismantle the ship to prepare it for its overland journey of 500 miles to Kisumu on Lake Victoria. The same volunteers returned to put the ship back together again to prepare the vessel for its official launch. Our commitment to Vine Trust also includes sending teams of employees to Tanzania to build homes for vulnerable children. I am immensely proud of our employees’ energy and commitment to the charity.

At the dinner, Michael van Anen of Anglo Gold Ashanti’s Geita Gold Mine signed and presented HRH the Princess Royal with a partnership agreement to provide fuel and maintenance for the Jubilee Hope for the next 5 years. The ship will be operated by Tanzanian partners AICT, who were also a signatory to the agreement.

Willie McPherson, Vine Trust CEO, speaking of the project, said “I’m delighted with the optimism and good will that Jubilee Hope is being greeted by within the Lake Zone of Tanzania and the wide support amongst those concerned with the provision of primary health care in the island communities. On behalf of everyone at Vine Trust, I’d like to thank the Princess Royal for travelling to Tanzania, launching the Jubilee Hope Project and for her continuing support as Patron of Vine Trust.”

Jubilee Hope is the third medical ship Vine Trust has launched to benefit remote communities in developing countries. As Jubilee Hope begins its work on Lake Victoria, its sister ships treat their one-millionth patient on the Peruvian Amazon.

Follow the link for a BBC article on the launch of the Hospital Ship at Mwanza by the Princess Royal.

Published 3 October 2014