I spent most of my professional life overseas in various management roles. When I retired in 2011 it was natural to come back to the Island where I returned frequently to visit my family and where I have enjoyed sailing for many years. I became a Cowes Town Councillor in 2013 and served as Deputy Major for two years. In 2015 I was asked to help the museum develop its long-term strategy and to secure a permanent home for its collection. It soon became clear to me that our Island’s incredible maritime history of innovation, design, and technological development, which includes many world firsts like the seaplane and hovercraft, deserved a proper museum to preserve this amazing heritage, and more importantly to inspire the next generations of inventors. In October that year I took on the position of Chairman.
Dr Victoria Preston - Deputy Chair
I have lived in Cowes since 2014, having spent most of my professional life in Switzerland, working in investment management and as an art advisor. Previously I was Vice President of Art for the World, Geneva, Treasurer of Aspex in Portsmouth and a Board Member of Parabola Trust in London. I co-own the beautiful classic West Solent One Design, Suvretta, built in 1924, which I campaign enthusiastically with my husband, Chris. As Deputy Chair of the Board of Trustees, I can combine my love of sailing with my experience as a curator and museologist. I believe passionately in the power of arts and culture to inspire hope and ambition and strive to connect maritime heritage with education and opportunities for young people in the sector.
Mike Greville - Treasurer
I am a practising solicitor and a lifelong yachtsman, having owned several racing and cruising boats over many years. I live in Cowes and am the Admiral (and former Commodore) of the Royal Ocean Racing Club. I became a Trustee of the Classic Boat Centre Trust because I am enthusiastic about maritime heritage and am keen to assist the museum to develop as a leading visitor attraction, educational facility and archive for the benefit of Cowes and the wider community.
Gywnne Lawrence - Company Secretary
Ten years ago, after a career as a Company Secretary and Fellow of the Institute of the Company Secretaries, I retired to the Isle of Wight. With family homes here since the 1950s, my first experience of sailing was in a Bembridge Scow at the age of seven. Later, I achieved my RYA Ocean Yachtmaster certificate and regularly took part in offshore racing and cruising. Through my long connection with the Island, I witnessed the launch of the first Hovercraft, the first Cowes Torquay powerboat series and the continuing development of yachting around the Solent. It is a great privilege to serve as a Trustee of the museum. I firmly believe in the importance of maritime heritage and the need to link it to education and jobs in the sector.
I spent most of my career in Further and Higher education and held several senior management posts. I then worked for the NHS on the Island. I have served on the boards of a number of charities both in London and Isle of Wight. I am a trustee of the Classic Boat Museum, serve on the Isle of Wight Museums Forum and was a founder member of The Island Collection. While working at St Mary’s Hospital, I was chair of Healing Arts. My interest in heritage and art history, began while working overseas, when I travelled extensively in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. I believe we need a wider interpretation and integration of art, culture, heritage and the environment to ensure the future health and wellbeing of the community.
Dr Dominic Fontana.
I am a retired academic, having formerly taught Geographical Information Systems, and Human and Historical Geography at the University of Portsmouth. I am a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and of the Society of Antiquaries. I have 40 years involvement in the Mary Rose maritime archaeological project. I am a member of the "Conseil Scientifique Internationale des Plages du Débarquement" seeking UNESCO World Heritage recognition for the D-Day Landing Beaches in Normandy. I have contributed to several television documentaries on naval history, the Mary Rose, the Battle of Hastings and have advised David Dimbleby on his series of films, “Britain and the Sea”. I live on the Isle of Wight and am a Trustee of the museum as I greatly believe in the role of cultural history as part of creating a happy community.
I spent my professional life in banking and corporate asset finance and retired in 2016. My main hobby when working was sailing cruising yachts and I achieved Yachtmaster Offshore and Cruising Instructor levels. In 2014 I started the restoration of a small 1960’s dinghy and used the workshop at the Classic Boat Museum in East Cowes during weekends. After retirement we moved to the Island permanently and I wanted to find an interesting outlet and continue my Interest in boats. Volunteering at the Classic Boat Museum was my first choice. After a short time, a new manager at the Boat Shed was needed and I took the opportunity, as well as becoming a Trustee of the museum. I enjoy both the people and the diversity of skills required to help the museum achieve its goals.
RA Hennessy FCIM
Ra brings with her over 20 years’ experience in marketing and new product development and is currently Head of Marketing for Ryde School. Until 2022 Ra was a Harbour Commissioner for Cowes for over five years and now also runs her own freelance business for marketing and new business development for companies on and off the Island including Ventnor Botanic Garden, B2C, B2B and charities. ”I started visiting the Isle of Wight, sailing in Cowes in 2011, and was lucky enough to be able to move to the Island permanently in 2014 with my children. We are very much part of the community in Cowes and I share a real desire with others to show-case Cowes and the Island in general as the amazing place that it is and I look forward to utilising my knowledge and experience to widen the awareness of the Classic Boat Museum and all the wonders it has to offer.
I have been living with my husband on the Isle of Wight since 2015, where I am the co-founder and Artistic Director of StoneCrabs Theatre Company. I trained in Brazil and in the UK and hold a Masters in Theatre Practices. I currently run acting, directing and producing workshops in Europe, Japan and Brazil. I have worked with the Gate Theatre, the London International Festival Theatre, the Royal Court, the Royal Shakespeare Company and as an Associate Director at the Young Vic, among others. Recently, I co-edited Out On An Island, The Isle of Wight’s LGBTQ+ Hidden History. I am passionate about storytelling and believe that museums play an important role in shaping our narratives. I look forward to connecting with the community and our audiences by integrating theatre, arts and heritage.
Maritime is a thriving and dynamic industry that relies upon a combination of highly skilled, enthusiastic and passionate people where education plays an integral part of its future success. The industry also serves as a catalyst for different forms of innovation and technological progress. I am proud to join the Board and thrilled that the museum is creating resources that supports this important industry and provides an insight into the significance of our history and how it paves the way for maritime futures. I have lived on the Island for over 20 years, 14 of which have been in school leadership. I am currently the Assistant Principal at Cowes Enterprise College, a 1300 student school with a rich history of alumni, many of whom are now working in both local and international maritime positions.
Kelly Wetherick - Chair, Museum Manager
After working within Island heritage for nearly 10 years, I am excited to be part of The Classic Boat Museum. The Isle of Wight is surrounded by the sea which never fails to captivate me as I explore our coastal heritage. Having grown up here, I am passionate about its history. This fascination with the past led me to study Archaeology and Heritage at the University of Leicester and I am proud to be currently undertaking PhD research through the University of Exeter. People fascinate me and I love weaving narratives around historical objects. Living as we do on an Island our maritime heritage is key; there are so many rich and diverse tales to tell!
Hamo Thornycroft - Deputy Chair
From dinghy sailing from an early age to a Cowes based business centred on photographing yacht racing in the Solent I have been involved with small boats most of my life. I first became involved with the Classic Boat Museum in 2016. At the time the boat collection was being relocated to Cowes from East Cowes and I helped with the move. Once I became aware of the quality and range of small craft it had amassed and the knowledgeable and friendly volunteers I was drawn in. My activities include arranging displays, welcoming visitors and recording and maintaining the collection. It is perhaps worth mentioning that I have close family connections with a number of the boats at the Boatshed as well as the archive material at the Gallery through both my father Peter, grandfather Tom and great grandfather John I. Thornycroft.
Dr Victoria Preston
Dr Dominic Fontana.
I started sailing at the age of 9 in dinghies. After a stint of campaigning an olympic 470 dinghy in early 1970's and getting married to Nick in 1976, went into offshore racing - mostly RORC. Eventually sailing out of Shepherds wharf marina, I met up with Maurice Wilmot, founder of the Classic Boat Museum. The inevitable happened. We moved from the midlands to the island. I became a trustee (now retired) and got hooked into museum life. Since retirement as an Inspector of HMRC (34 years) I wanted something to do.The main thing I missed about work was the people. The museum easily filled that void. As manager of the Boat Shed I now have lots of thing to do, and have great fun together with other volunteers.
Rosemary Joy - Museum Historian
I came to the Museum via the bar at the Island Sailing Club - urged by friends who rightly said it would be fun for me, a ‘Jill-of-all-trades’, with years in Cowes, decades of race officering, lecturing on J-Class racing in the 1930s, a canal boat in France and later Hon. Sec. of the newly formed Association of Yachting Historians. This rather varied background was ideally suited in the early days of the museum's growth, welcoming as we did loans and donations of all sorts and sizes, the rare and the mundane, the valuable and the junk, and vast stacks of books, magazines and film. Now we are a serious grown-up museum, and it’s still fun.
Isle of Wight Heritage Services
When the opportunity arose to join the Classic Boat Museum as a volunteer it seemed like a good fit for me. I was bought up on the Thames. My father built two wooden boats, and my husband John and I owned Blue Dolphin for 10 years, a lovely classic yacht with strong associations to Cowes. I have worked in Marketing, and Real Estate and before retirement for Island Training, the adult education sector of the IOW College. I have lived on America's East Coast and in France, but have always loved coming back to the Island. As a Gallery volunteer I have the chance to engage with visitors. I meet so many enthusiastic, interesting people and as a bonus I am learning more about the maritime heritage of my Island home.