I attended a spectacular ball aboard the QE on Friday. Aston Martin's, Ferrari's and smashed-in Land Rover's (all features from past Bond films) lined the red carpet on our approach to the ship. Synthetic smoke blowing across the aircraft carrier's massive freeboard, caught the blue/red/white flood lights proudly painting her British. My partner, Dawn, dressed in velvet green, floated through the scene toward her station. Her team led the Bond-themed event from the stern, raising a handsome sum for the RNRMC charity elegantly.
I was there for two reasons. Firstly because, fortunately, I’m Dawn’s other half, and secondly to witness the auction of a 2-day summer sail in the Solent aboard Vanguard.
I was excited to see her first impact among a crowd.
After listening to 12 yr old Jacobs Mason warming speech, cocktails, wine, and port flowed as the auction began. To name a few prizes - SBS shotguns went for £19k, private dinner aboard the Victory for £12k, a night in the Skyfall villa at something extortionate, and more. Vanguard sat among the prizes, auctioned for a night and 2 days with a private chef and plenty of adventurous imagination, she made £7k for the charity.
I felt proud seeing Vanguard on the big screen at one end of the Hangar, keen hands raised in the crowd vouching to sail her. What was only an idea a short time ago, was now slotted into the diaries of strangers and making a real charitable difference.
This was no average gig, and I contemplated on where the adventure of a ripening idea may take you. As I watched Vanguard sell herself, I was sat in a dinner jacket, eating macaroons beneath a crate of F35 missiles, chatting to two Bavarian warhead designers, whilst resisting the eminent draw of an attractively dressed German opera singer, Friederike Krum, across the table. The high-ranking, rich and powerful sat behind me and a table of sub-marina’s were merry and noisy to the left. Over cheese and biscuits, the Bavarians educated me about missiles. Later the whole gang flocked in as a united front toward the stage and partied to the son of Status Quo’s rock band ‘RPJ’ blasting out classics. Everybody bounced around, with no social differences, all well-oiled in the hangar of an active warship until 1am. I will remember it fondly.
Now comes the run-up to the official commissioning of Vanguard in 2023. Intrepid arctic exploration lies ahead, but before that, live testing of her integrity as a ‘luxury explorer’ vessel with 4 unprimed guests who we thoroughly look forward to joining us, and giving their honest opinion.
Thank you to the RNRMC and HMS Queen Elizabeth for hosting a memorable event and inviting us to be a part of it.