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Family set sail for the jubilee flotilla; Boats at event will feature in record books.

Byline: Ruth Lawson

A FAMILY-OF-FIVE will be sailing down the Thames as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Pageant. The McGowans were selected out of thousands to take their motor boat, Dawn Huntress, to London to join the largest flotilla of modern times with rowing boats, working boats and pleasure vessels of all shapes and sizes in June.

Anna McGowan, who owns Dawn Huntress, will be onboard the 23ft vessel with daughters Luci, 10, and twins Rebecca and Minty, eight, with husband Hugo at the helm.

The 44-year-old, of Longwitton, Northumberland said: "Hugo read about it last year and found out it was going on and applied for it. Then we heard back recently saying we were one of the thousand boats." The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant saw applications pour in with three boats vying for every place. Organisers and representatives from the river community were involved in the selection process which included considering safety, fitness-for-purpose and range of vessel type as well as exploring whether the vessel was of historical significance or had an interesting story to tell.

Dawn Huntress, which has undergone massive restoration by Hugo over the past few years, was one of the lucky chosen ones and mechanic Hugo plans to sail the 48-year-old boat down to London ahead of the pageant.

Anna added: "All of the boats are going to muster in one of the docks in the East End from June 1 then they will move up the Thames and be ready to set off on June 3. "It's been split into 12 sections, we are in section five which is the historic class.

"There are some fabulous boats taking part and the atmosphere is going to be amazing. The Queen will be in the first section and the whole thing is to be lead by a belfry as the boats travel up the river. "It's a truly historical event which is lovely to be part of."

It will be a family affair for the McGowans with Hugo, 48, leading the crew with Anna and the children as passengers.

"The whole family will be onboard and we're all going to be in red, white and blue with bunting and everything," said full-time mother Anna.

"All three of my daughters wrote to the Queen at the beginning of the year saying that they were going to be taking part and each sent a picture they had drawn of our boat so the Queen would recognise it and wave to them.

"We got back three personal letters from the lady-in-waiting which were so touching and special."

As well as marking the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, Anna will also be celebrating her 45th birthday on June 3. "We will never get the opportunity to participate in anything like this again," added Anna. "It is going to be a huge adventure for all of us."

CAPTION(S):

PROUD Anna McGowan with (left to right) twins Minty and Rebecca, and Luci. At the front is Hugo. Right, the boat afloat
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 16, 2012
Words:500
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