Peter Melson has taken over from Peter Cardy as Chairman of Gosport Marine Scene. We caught up with Peter to find out a bit about him.
Perhaps we can ask you a little about yourself to begin with. Are you a native of Gosport?
PM: No, I’m not. My wife and I live in Droxford in the Meon Valley, but we keep our boat at Hornet Services Sailing Club in Haslar Creek.
What do you do in your working life?
PM: I spent the majority of my working life at sea, firstly in the Merchant Navy, then the Royal Navy, and finally returning to the red ensign with Trinity House.
What keeps you busy?
PM: All sorts of things. I was Commodore of HSSC for five and a half years, retaining parts of Fort Blockhouse for leisure sailing against a determined attempt to add it to the Royal Haslar portfolio; I remain involved with Trinity House as an Elder Brother; I am a Director of an Isle of Wight Foundation for getting young people into marine related employment; and of course I am a Director, and now Chairman, of Gosport Marine Scene with the aim of re-connecting Gosport and its people with their maritime past.
Do you sail a lot?
PM: We tend to spend up to three months a year afloat, and have cruised the coast of Europe between the Norwegian border with Sweden and the Portugese border with Spain. Outside of this long distance sailing we cruise the south coast of England extensively.
What is the special appeal of GMS?
PM: Gosport, in common with much of the rest of the UK, suffers from “Sea Blindness”. There is an enormous amount of activity in the marine sector, from super-yachting, to composite material construction, to light, marine industry, to Merchant and Royal Naval careers. Yet these opportunities are little know outside of very specialised sectors. Gosport, together with Portsmouth, is very well placed to capitalise on this large and active sector and GMS has a very real role in promoting it.
What do you think GMS has achieved so far?
PM: An enormous amount, under Peter Cardy’s inspired leadership. We had the second Marine Festival in May, which attracted stands from far and wide, and marine related activities that inspired and enthused large numbers of young, and not so young, attendees. We have a vibrant Marine Futures Programme which encourages young people to sea in sail training ships and which has led to careers in offshore sailing for some. Finally we link together the many marine industries and businesses in Gosport for mutual benefit and assistance.
What are your plans for GMS for the future?
PM: Gosport has huge potential with a sound bedrock of successful marine business and activity. Yet when people think of Portsmouth Harbour, they think of Portsmouth, not Gosport. We need to change that. We have the marinas, we have the business and industry, and we have the people. We need to capitalise on that. I would like, in particular, to understand the skills gap in marine related employment between what employers require and what the schools and colleges provide. Building on that, and to encourage further employment in Gosport I would like to see Portsmouth Harbour marketed in the round, with Gosport and Portsmouth working together to make the Harbour a destination of choice for yachtsmen and businesses who currently think first of areas such as the Hamble.
Anything else we should know about you?
PM: I’ve been involved with the sea virtually all my life. I owned my first boat at the age of ten. Gosport is a maritime town – “God’s Port” – and like the rest of the UK has rather turned its back on the sea of recent years. The sea has an enormous amount to offer, in all its manifestations and I would like to help. And by the way, my wife was in the Navy too!
Thank you, Peter – and good luck.