So, I’m back in the UK for a bit before heading off on my travels to the states. Before I go, I thought I’d let those of you thinking of visiting the Mayflower Project during the school Summer Holidays know just what to expect. These photos were taken within the last week.
No signs, no information, just a weathered piece of paper stuck to the door. Run down, abandoned, neglected, totally uninspiring and of course, no ship build. I’ll ask the question yet again: Where did all those donations go?
Remember Mr Sean Day’s (HMP Executive) proud boast a month or so back? “We’re top of the pops on tripadvisor.” (They were actually languishing at Number 8)
As the old saying goes “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
As you can see there is a list of comments from readers of the blog over there on the right, and they are well worth a little read if you have time. The latest is as follows from “A resident” and refers to the recent community meeting.
Does anyone have any feedback on what happened at this meeting?
Being a totally transparent and responsible charity, one would assume that there would be something on their website, or social media, even a little “thank you to those who attended”. But as of this post, I can’t find anything at all.
There are thousands of people following this blog both here in the UK, and in the US as well (even in Brazil!). Every now and then, one of these lovely people will pass me on something Mayflower related. I have just been sent a link to a facebook video today and thought as I had a few minutes I’d watch it. After seeing it, I paused in disbelief and had to put a post up here.
Apparently there’s no such thing as bad publicity. But after seeing this promotional video, (link at bottom of page) I’m not so sure.
OK, let’s debunk the “fake news” that Sean Day (HMP Executive) thrives on and address the points he makes.
1: “The Mayflower was built in Harwich”
While the Mayflower is stated “Of Harwich” in port records, (this denotes where she was berthed at the time records were made) there is no verifiable proof that it was actually built in Harwich. But truthfully saying “We’re assuming she was built in Harwich” wont help the cause will it?
2: “We’re going to re-enact the journey in 2020”
The Project have been trying to get funding to build the ship since 2010. They have no funding and have set a cut off date of 8 months from today (March 2018) before they run out of time. There is no ship being built at this moment, and in my opinion they are aware there wont be a ship build. They’re just killing time until they announce they wont be building it, instead I think they’ll be looking to build a model on land as a tourist trap.
3: “We took over an old training school which is also on our estate”
The training school was closed “temporarily” in mid 2016 and remains closed. The building that housed it is now being used for a different purpose and it looks like the training school will remain closed. Hmm, “Our estate”. Nice choice of words, I’ll keep that in mind for the future.
4: “We’re about to open a national railway museum”
No you’re not. A national museum is one owned and operated by the state. Examples of National museums are The British Museum, The Imperial War Museum and The National Gallery in London. The Mayflower Project is about to open a small local “museum” run by themselves in a few rooms in a railway station.
5: “We will finish the ship on time”
The project has admitted it cannot even start the build because it has no (and cannot find) funding. How can you finish something if you haven’t even started it! But again, truthfully saying “If we manage to get funding and can build the ship, we hope to deliver it on time” wont help the cause.
6: “If you think you can help in any way, contact us”
Well dear reader, it’s your money. But ask yourself this. Is there a reason why these guys have been struggling to get funding for the last 7 years and have been turned down for lottery funding?
7: “When I read your email [about a swimming gala] I thought you were pulling my leg”
Sean mate, you’d go to the opening of an envelope.
8: “We have had confirmation that Branson will be on the maiden voyage”
I have contacted Mr Branson’s representatives, asking for confirmation of this and have also given them the link to this video asking them to confirm Sean Day’s statements and to verify Branson’s involvement with the Project.
9: “We’re top of the pops on trip advisor”
You’re actually number 8 of things to do, behind such places as The Electric Palace, The Redoubt Fort, Halfpenny Pier and the beach. The latest TripAdvisor comment on your page from 30th April was “Anything happening here?”
10 “1000 visitors a week”
That’s over 100 a day, really? You do of course have verifiable proof of that?
11. “Reinstating USA charity status”
If the HMP do reinstate their US charity status, I’d like to offer a little advice to all the Americans out there. If you want to help a ship build, please give your hard earned cash to the guys at Mystic Seaport who are doing an amazing job renovating Mayflower II.
Regarding the video, it’s painfully obvious how much the Harwich Mayflower Project misses Tom Daly (Ex Chairman) as a front man. Sean Day’s falseness and pathetic attempts at “humour” just go to emphasise the genuine warmth and charm of Tom Daly.
Mr Day. If you want to promote the Project and come across as a professional, please don’t try so hard to appear like nothing more than a bumbling Sunday market wide boy. And try not to tuck your shirt into your pants on camera. Seriously man, if you want to put across a professional persona, get some media training. Tom Daly oozed charm. You just seem to ooze false and untrustworthy.
[I have been flooded with an email saying I was negative towards Mr Day. On reflection, my comment about his dropping his “H’s” has nothing to do with his ability, or lack of it, to run the Project. As such I have removed the sentence that mentioned this]
If you look closely at the first few minutes of the video you can practically see Sean Day working the DM like a puppet. Mr DM You missed a golden opportunity right at the start of the vid to push Harwich and everything about it. Watch Sean Day as the Deputy Mayor speaks, you can practically see him thinking “Come on, come on, we rehearsed this so many times for God’s sake!”
Isn’t it about time the HMP came up with something new and fresh, apart from the same old rubbish they’ve been trotting out for the last 7 years or so. The same tired old jokes and facts were given to me to push when I was a volunteer guide. “Lady Gaga..hahaha. Swimming with a waterproof letter.” Oh my aching ribs ZZzzzzz. Sean, your routine is getting dated, you need some new material my friend. But at least you got a plug in for that hotel starting with an “M”.
This video is a prime example of all that is wrong with the Project. Unfortunately guys, you’ve shot yourselves in the foot and you come across as rank amateurs. Anyone watching this that has any sense at all would run a mile and take their money with them!
BRING BACK TOM DALY!!!!!
On the subject of Tom Daly. I’ve just heard that he is recovering after a spell in hospital and an operation. On behalf of this blog and its readers, I’d like to send him my best wishes for a speedy recovery.
UPDATE: This meeting has now been re scheduled to 4pm
Just heard from Mr Tony Elliston that the next HMP community meeting for everyone in Harwich and beyond to visit the Project and raise concerns, or just ask questions or queries, has been pencilled in for 11 July at 9.30am. My reply is below.
You’re having a community meeting at 9.30am on a weekday again? Can you please explain the reasoning behind that? Why have a community meeting when most of the community will be at work, and those who don’t work will be looking after families, or be at school, or college. Surely you want to see (and hear) as much of the local community as possible? Surely you want as many opinions and comments from the good people of Harwich as you can get. Come on, work with me on this, prove to me and the people of Harwich that you’re the man I think you are, and have your next (and every future) community meeting at 7.30pm in the evening.
NB. My original reply did say “..who don’t work will probably be in bed”. A very poor and sleepy assumption on my part at nearly 4am, so with apologies, I have corrected myself here. I’ve also added “every future meeting” as well for clarification.
I usually try to do a half yearly update, but seeing as I wont be around for most of July and August, I’ve decided to do this a little early. Apologies for the hurried nature of the post and any errors, but I’m literally heading out the door!
The year started off as the last one ended, with no work of any sort taking place on a ship build. The HMP is a group of people with no shipbuilding experience based in a railway yard. Their staff consist of no shipwrights, and as such there continues to be no work of any sort on a build since 2014, and the current “build” consisting of a rapidly rotting part hull which has been deemed unusable (see below) still sits forlornly in the Railway Yard.
January: The chairman (Tom Daly*) “stands down” and Vice Chairperson (Lynda Chase-Gardner) “resigns” from the Project. Blanket reasons of “ill health” and “busy” are cited after they have gone but not attributed to either person. There was no further comment on why they left. But apparently they are still “advisers” to the Project.
February: The Harwich Mayflower Project loses it’s USA charity status, stating that they had “let it lapse”.
February: The Harwich Mayflower has its Annual General Meeting. Apparently it was a very ‘lively” debate with the HMP of course standing their corner and apparently evading several probing questions and refusing to actually give direct answers to direct questions. Basically no one was any the wiser after the event than before it. As one attendee at the AGM said to me “A lot of those guys have great futures as politicians when they move on”
March: A Harwich resident sends the following to the Blog:
I’ve spent a lot of time around the project, looking over the walls nearly everyday; and I for one can’t understand these random side steps in progression with this project. If it’s failing, just admit it’s failing. Every article for the last 4 years covering this “community project” has shown it to be some god awful parody of what it perceives itself to be, some nautical historical Disney land. where the truth can only be described as “Carry on across the Atlantic”. Everything that goes slightly off target with it just gets the official response of “tis but a scratch” even though it’s had its arms chopped off and is standing on stumps, (don’t worry it’s official mayflower oak stumps, felled from the most holy of oak trees). The loss of charity status may not detriment it’s laughable income in donations from across the pond, but it does effect it’s status on the global stage as an “official” charity that wants to take place in these global 400 year anniversary celebrations that should be “bigger than all of the olympics and world cup games put together”, according to my last tour. I only want this project to seriously succeed so that when or if The Donald ever steps foot on it; I can at least watch them both sink together knowing that our backwater little town actually did something positive for the world.
But in all seriousness, I know my dreams of seeing this actually work out will never succeed because how can we take this seriously if it can’t get even the big business local to harwich itself on board? Where are those giant cheques from Hutchinsons or Trinity House, Where’s the list of businesses the HMP are on as official registered charities to lend it credence? Any small little idea can become a registered charity here in the UK. As far as i can see this has less substance, less impact on the local area, and less continual support from local business and credibility than a cat sanctuary that gets a few tins of cat food a week from Asda.
March: The local Harwich and Manningtree Standard newspaper runs the following story.
Local council says “Harwich Mayflower Project no longer a major part of Harwich 2020 celebrations”
April: Still no sign of a ship build and the “temporary” closure of the Training school is still in place.
May: The HMP hold an “Open Session” for members of the public. A professional examiner of shipbuilding training was present at the meeting and stated the following:
“The build is not likely, especially as the structure as it stands would not pass scrutiny. Thus the build would have to start from scratch and I can’t see that happening”
The Project stated that they have set a cut off date of May 2018, which will see the Project unable to build a ship. It was said that if this is the case, the Project will revert to “Promotional activities” for the 2020 anniversary.
Questions were asked at the meeting, such as “why is there such limited information” and “why are the opening hours so erratic” but apparently, all questions were met with a bland and well rehearsed “We will address your concerns”
Pretty routine stuff, but apparently things heated up when a member of the public was heard saying “Sean Day (staff) and Robert Day (Trustee) are well known local wide boys who should not be encouraged to continue with their plans”.
June: The Project’s opening hours are cut from 9-5 to 9-1. Maybe a lack of visitors? Their “New” website goes live. They decide to use a framework I provided in 2015 and refuse to give me any credit. (see earlier post)
June: Another Director (Jeffrey Fidgett) resigns.
As of this post, and with the project stating they will “abandon all plans to build a ship if they do not have funding by March 2018″, I have to say that my optimism for a build has been practically extinguished. The Project’s current literature does seem to focus less on a build and more on a future consisting of a Harwich Heritage project. But as usual, I try to remain cautiously optimistic. As it has now been announced that the Project will be building an on shore replica, (which I forecasted in an earlier post) I am of the opinion that within a few months there will be an announcement of non committal to the original idea of a seagoing replica and the HMP will become little more than a Harwich museum.
*Tom Daly was one of the originators of the Harwich Mayflower Project back in 2006 or so (I may be a few years out either way). During my 18 months at the Project as a volunteer, I saw a great deal of Tom and spent a lot of time in his company. He is, in my opinion, one of the most personable and likeable men it has ever been my pleasure to meet. With his Irish lilt and obvious charm, he quickly became the front man for the Project. He made numerous TV and radio appearances and was often quoted in print talking about the Project. It is he who when asked by a TV reporter what would have happened if the ship hadn’t sailed, replied “Turkeys would be safe!” His devotion to the Project and the people of Harwich is unquestioned. Of course, I have no idea why he stepped down, but I’d still like to mention him here.
Several years ago I sat in on a meeting which Tom headed, discussing the future of the project. Without divulging any personal or HMP details, it is fair to say that by the end of the meeting, Tom’s love of the Project was obvious. He was close to tears when talking about the future of the Project and made an offer to pay any future shortfall in wages for Project workers from his own pocket, should the need arise. That is the measure of the man. His only thought was for the people working at the HMP and their immediate futures. In my opinion, Tom Daly was always only interested in what he could give to the HMP and how it would benefit the people of Harwich. He had no thought of making anything out of it for himself. I know from first hand experience the amount of time Mr Daly spent at the Project and I would assume (although I have no knowledge of it) that he also spent a lot of money on the Project as well.
Bearing this in mind, I find it amazing, and to be honest, a little sad, that the Project has so far made no public announcement thanking him for all his hard work after he stepped down. So with that in mind, I would like to publicly offer my own thanks.
Tom, thank you for all the hard work, time, and energy you put into the Project over the last ten or so years. Your presence as an honest and straightforward talking gentleman was a huge benefit to the HMP and I imagine it will be sorely missed. It was a pleasure to have known you and to have spent time in your company and the Mayflower Project is all the worse for your moving on. While I remain cautiously optimistic for a ship build, I think that without someone like you with your obvious love for the Project at the helm, someone who didn’t see what was in it for him, someone who wanted nothing more than to see the Ship floating alongside Harwich pier, and someone who put others before himself, I believe the build will be so much harder to achieve.
Again, from an ex volunteer. Thank you for everything you did for the HMP and for Harwich.
I don’t really have the time for this and wanted the six month update to be my last post before I head off for while, but…
I was recently asked by someone from the Project to explain why I was so vexed with what they are doing. I replied it was less being vexed and more a case of trying to balance the Project’s misinformation. But now, now I guess you could call me slightly vexed.
I try to stay impartial and objective with this blog and not let any personal feelings interfere with what I write here. So I’m apologising in advance for more of a personal blog than I usually write, and for what is basically a bit of a rant. But I feel that I need to speak out so as not to not allow myself to be taken advantage of.
The HMP have a “new” website which they are currently trumpeting, and is credited as the work of “GSL”. I’ve tried to keep this post as short and concise as I can, so please bear with me. I have also had to include various messages here as proof of what transpired, in the knowledge that the HMP may try to say different, or say they “didn’t know”.
I feel a little back story is called for. I own a small IT company, and I have also coded, designed and currently run one of the biggest websites of its kind, regularly pulling in over 25million hits per month. So it’s safe to say I’m good at what I do and I know my job. During my time volunteering at the HMP, I worked on their existing website to help update it as much as I could, even though I felt it was dated and hard to navigate. In mid 2015 I put a proposal to Sean Day of the HMP to upload a whole new website. One of the services my company provides is building bespoke websites for clients that can run into several months work. But for those who want a cheap, quick and easy option we offer a template service. Basically, we’ll obtain an existing template and simply copy and paste the clients info into it. This is what I proposed for the Project and presented them with a demo using a template called “SouthCentral”. The template is available here for $40 if you’re interested https://wplift.com/theme/southcentral
I had put several of HMP’s images in the header and added paragraphs about the Project and what it was doing. I altered several of the areas and made them appropriate to the Project. I explained that it could be further enhanced by various plugins that could for example have tabbed browsing and even a shop. My idea was that this would be a more modern looking site and as it was all on one scrolling page, very straightforward and easy to navigate.
At this time there was a young man called Greg helping at the project. Greg is a friend of Mr Sean Day (staff) and still visits the Project today, he’s very IT savvy and keen to learn. I asked if he’d like to help me with the new website as he’d learn something about web design and how to use a WordPress template, things that might be handy to know. So I explained how it worked and he helped get the demo up and running. A little while later the full demo with HMP material added was shown to the HMP who liked it but eventually decided not to go with it. That wasn’t a problem, and a little while later I moved out of Harwich and back to London, leaving the Project behind. I then received a mail once I no longer helped out, mentioning the demo. This again acknowledges the Project is aware of the site I prepared….
Sean was with Gregory and I when I asked for the login [for the demo]. I would very much like to see the Mayflower Demo site – and that is why I asked Gregory for those login details – unless you have another way of showing it to me online?
My reply (Oct 2015) is below. I wasn’t going to just show this person what I’d done so they could copy it…
Over the last few months I have been working with [Greg] on a demo of a website which we believe would be a huge improvement on the current Harwich Mayflower site, in fact everyone who has seen it (including Mr. Day) has said that it is a fabulous achievement and a major improvement over what the Project currently has. In my professional opinion (as CEO of a server management and website design/hosting company with over 14 years experience) the current HMP site does nothing to promote the Project. The same must also be said for the Project’s social media output which to be honest, is lacklustre and amateurish at best.
I’m sure you will be aware of the positive impact a well designed website and managed social media can have on a company. You will also appreciate that a poorly managed media output will have a significantly negative impact on the same company.
From a recent conversation I had with [Greg] it would seem that you have asked for details of the new ‘Frame’. I’m assuming this refers to the ‘Mayflower Demo’ project which [Greg] and myself are working on. The demo which we have put together is an example of our work and is not in the public domain. It is to be used to show what we can do for the Project and to enlighten the Project as to how our work is a major improvement on what you have at the moment.
On previously seeing the demo, Mr Sean Day (staff) said via mail (again proof of the demo website)
…looking at the demo this is already much better than previous.
Now, fast forward 2 years and the Project unveils a “New” site by GSL. Imagine my surprise when I realised the website is using the SouthCentral template I originally submitted and is basically a photocopy of what I had worked on and shown as a demo in 2015. All that has been updated is the news and images, which I guess is to be expected after two years. I contacted Greg and asked about the site… [images can be clicked on to enlarge] This is confirmation that I did indeed work on the demo site and it was the basis for the “new’ site.
Yep it IS only fair. “Don’t mention anything about James”? Wow, Really? well if nothing else, it’s proof that the Project admits it knew I worked on the site but wanted to keep my name out of it.
The following is confirmation that Greg is indeed the “GSL” that worked on this “New” site.
In a nutshell, I supplied the canvas, the brushes, a paint by numbers picture and explained how to do the painting, then someone came along, bought their own canvas, copied my picture, put a splotch of colour on my work and called it their own while protesting “But I bought my own canvas!” I did ask for a credit, but in all honesty I think there’s more chance of the Harwich Mayflower Project building a ship. I’d rather just let people know how this “new” site came into being. If nothing else, this has taught me two things. Greg is easily led and somewhat naive, and the Project’s ideals don’t seem to have changed since I moved on. I have contacted Greg and asked for some form of credit on the site, but after a week of asking, that request has been ignored. Of course, the basic template is freely available to purchase by anyone to do what they want with, including the Project, and it was purchased. But ownership of a template isn’t the issue here. The issue is that without using my knowledge, input, ideas and work on the demo, there would be no new site. They wouldn’t even know about this template, never mind how to set the thing up. They could have used a different template, or coded their own site from scratch, but they went down the easier route of using what I had previously given them. So a thank you and a small credit would’ve been appreciated. Too much to ask? I think not.
Again, apologies for what is more of a personal post than usual.
The Harwich Mayflower Project has announced an Open Session to allow “people with concerns about the Project to question a Trustee” (taken from Harwich and Manningtree Standard Fri 12th May). If you are local and have any concerns, please attend.
The time and date of the session is Thursday May 18th at 9.30am. A time when most people who have any concerns may be at work. But, the Project has of course set up a special email address where anyone with a concern can send in their questions… Oh wait, they haven’t.
So, please be prepared for the Project’s announcement of “We asked for people with concerns to turn up and only 2 arrived”. Why was this not set for a time in the evening when the people of Harwich could actually be there. Surely one of the Trustees, who are mostly retired individuals, can spare a few hours in the evening to meet members of the public? The same public that they are taking donations from. As I’ve said before, it’s not rocket science is it?
I for one can’t be there, but if anyone who is reading this can be there, could you please ask a question for me? “Dear Trustee, as there has been no ship build since 2014 and you have been, and are still taking donations from the public for a “Build” which is non-existent at the moment, can you please state (with records to back it up) what these donations from the public have been used for?”
Now that this question is in the public domain, the Project will no doubt have their usual “politician style” prepared answer ready.
There are of course lots of unanswered questions concerning this “Charity”, but they’re best left for members of the public to ask on Thursday.