(Original script, may differ from delivered version)
Thank you Admiral Lord West, Captain Matthew Easton and the rest of the Merchant Navy Medal Fund Committee for inviting me to say a few words.
It’s an honour to be here.
And what better place for such a ceremony than Trinity House, steeped in maritime history.
First I would like to congratulate this year’s recipients of the Merchant Navy Medal.
It is a prestigious accolade.
Sometimes people forget how important merchant seafarers and fishers are to our island nation.
So it is right that they are recognised for the vital role they play in often difficult and dangerous conditions.
Today’s medals are particularly special as they are the last set awarded by the Merchant Navy Medal Fund.
Back in 2011, the Fund began a campaign for a medal that is granted a place in the order of wear.
Two years later, Her Majesty the Queen approved a recommendation to introduce such a medal - a state award with a place in the order of wear.
And earlier this year, the Royal Warrant was signed.
Throughout this period, the Merchant Navy Medal Fund Committee worked closely with the Department for Transport and although it has taken some time to get to this point; these things are never as straightforward as they appear.
I am delighted to announce today that from 2016 we will have a new state award for a Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service with a place in the order of wear.
The first awards will be announced on Merchant Navy Day – 3rd September 2016.
May I take this opportunity to thank the Merchant Navy Medal Fund Committee for the work they have done in recognising the outstanding service of those who have been awarded Merchant Navy Medals over the past 10 years.