Leeds’ first Royal Naval Reserve Unit HMS Ceres has been formally commissioned by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal.
Princess Anne was the guest of honour at the ceremony as the headquarters was formally dedicated before attending the official reception.
Ceres has existed in various forms as a naval establishment in Yorkshire over the past 70 years and, until last year, was a satellite unit of HMS Calliope on Tyneside. Now it’s a reserve headquarters in its own right, and is home to 80 reservists from Yorkshire.
Around £600,000 has been spent refurbishing the existing building occupied by the sailors at Carlton Barracks, on the northern edge of Leeds city centre. A new two-storey wing and accommodation block has been added, providing Ceres with new training and classroom facilities and 12 permanent bed spaces. The work was designed, project-managed and delivered by the RFCA for Yorkshire and The Humber.
The Princess Royal dedicated those facilities in front of civic dignitaries, government officials, The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Plymouth and, most importantly, the ship’s company of HMS Ceres.
“I’m honoured to take part in the ceremony – it’s an historic moment which we’ll remember for years to come,” said 18-year-old Able Seaman Gaby Blackburn from Huddersfield and a member of the 24-strong Royal Guard. She has recently completed her basic training alongside regular navy recruits at HMS Raleigh in Cornwall and is a customer service assistant in her regular civilan job.
“It’s something that not many people get to do, and I’m proud to have my dad, someone very close to me, watch me do it.”
Leading Seaman Rob Kendrick, 38, from Halifax, added: “I felt very proud to be in the Royal Guard and I’m very proud of the unit and the people in it. They always go above and beyond what is required.”
After the ceremony the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander David Noakes, was presented with the original ship’s bell from HMS Ceres, a C-Class Cruiser that saw action in both World Wars and played a crucial role in the D-Day landings. The bell had been on display at HMS Raleigh and will now take pride of place in HMS Ceres.
Minister for Reserves Julian Brazier said: “Our Naval Reservists are an integral part of the UK Armed Forces, and have served on operations right around the world, from counter piracy operations in the Indian Ocean to service in Iraq and Afghanistan, to assisting in disaster relief in the Philippines. Today’s commissioning of HMS Ceres is an important milestone in the history of the unit, and our investment in the facilities in Leeds will see them go from strength to strength.”
Reservists from HMS Ceres have deployed with the Royal Navy to Afghanistan, Iraq and the Gulf, on anti-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa, and have supported the security effort at the London Olympics and Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Its personnel hold recruitment evenings at Carlton Barracks from 8pm on the last Thursday of every month. Click here to visit their website.
Report and photographs courtesy of Samantha Chapman, Royal Navy Press Office 02392 625221.
More photos can be viewed on the RFCA Gallery page here.
Crown Copyright 2016