Gig launch :: Lady Freda

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Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club Launch Lady Freda

On Saturday 12th March Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club presented their new Pilot Gig boat “Lady Freda” to the people of Barnstaple, at the traditional blessing ceremony on Castle Quay.

The ceremony was well attended by members of neighbouring Gig clubs, the club’s benefactors and well wishers as well as the general public.

North Devon Councillor David Butt introduced the proceedings which started with Father Ken Moss, calling for a minute’s silence in remembrance of those who had lost their lives in the Japanese Tsunami.

Speeches in support of the Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club were then made by the leader of North Devon Council, Des Brailey and the Mayor of Barnstaple, Ian Roome.

Mr Keith Abraham, of the Keith Noel Abraham Charitable Trust, which funded the boat, then formally named her, as “Lady Freda” wetting the bow with Barum Ale. This traditional part of the ceremony was done from an engraved tankard which was presented to Mr Abraham. The name “Lady Freda” is in honour of Mr Abraham’s late wife who was closely involved with his trust’s charitable work.

“Lady Freda” was then blessed by Father Ken Moss and the boat was launched for the first time, taking her maiden voyage along the Taw. Accompanying them was the club’s training boat “Odessa” whose crew gave a rousing three cheers for the new gig as she slipped out into the Taw.

Passengers on the new gig’s first voyage were Father Ken and Bernard Maskell a local businessman and club benefactor and the boat was rowed by oarsmen/women who had joined the club last year and who were new to gig rowing.

Winding up the proceedings, Club Chairman Jon Ellwood thanked everyone for coming and all those who have helped and supported the club over the last 12 months. Special thanks went to the Keith Noel Abraham Charitable Trust and also to Bernard Maskell who has given the club the use of the Brunswick Wharf Barn on Rolle Quay, a facility which gives the club a home in the Centre of Barnstaple and has allowed the club to store the boats in a safe and dry area. Jon finished the ceremony by making 3 promises:

1. To use this boat to get as many rowers from the Barnstaple area on the water as possible

2. To develop a strong junior section

3. To make the club as strong and successful as it can be, from the very good foundations, which it now has.

After a very successful launch day the club is looking forward to competing in many regattas and competitions, starting with the World Championships on the Isles of Scilly in April.

Club Chair Jon Ellwood says it was particularly heartening to see so much support from the local community and he say it will be training hard on the River Taw and around the North Devon coast.

The gig club is currently seeking support from local businesses and is offering Sponsor Boards on their new Trailer, which will transport Lady Freda to many Regattas & Competitions.

For more details about the club visit


Brian Pomeroy & Son of Dartmouth built the new race boat. Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club was founded in 2010 and has over 50 rowing members.

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