Article - Issue 26, March 2006

Genesis of a Queen – The President's New Year Reception

Isla McMillan

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Stephen Payne presents Project Queen Mary © Mark Crick

Stephen Payne presents Project Queen Mary © Mark Crick

On 19 January The Royal Academy of Engineering welcomed Stephen Payne OBE, Chief Designer of the ocean liner Queen Mary 2, as guest speaker for this year’s New Year Reception and Address hosted by Academy President Lord Broers. Stephen Payne discussed the challenges he faced in the design and project management of the QM2, and the personal adventure which led him to this point in his career. Before delivering his lecture he was presented with the Academy’s Special Achievement Award in recognition of his role as world leader in his field, and in bringing enormous credit to UK engineering through his work.

The President’s New Year Reception was attended by 165 guests who were met with a string quartet and drinks reception upon arrival. Lord Broers opened the evening with a welcome speech, and introduced Mr Payne who spoke for an hour. Stephen Payne identified the Blue Peter programme as the source of his childhood fascination with passenger ships. In fact, when Blue Peter featured the demise of the original Queen Elizabeth liner, claiming she was “the last of a great age, a superliner, and nothing like her will ever be built again,” Stephen wrote a letter of firm disagreement and enclosed some ideas of his own for a new ship. Blue Peter responded with a letter of encouragement and a blue Blue Peter badge, which caused Stephen much dismay since he had been hoping for a gold one! Happily, he did eventually receive a gold Blue Peter badge – 32 years after writing his letter!

After Stephen Payne’s address he invited several of his colleagues, who provided much support and friendship, on to the stage to receive a Cunard Line badge in recognition of their hard work and dedication. Following this, guests were invited to participate in a question and answer session. The evening concluded with a delicious dinner and lively discussion. Many guests congratulated the speaker on a magnificent and moving address.

Further information: To download a full transcript of the evening please visit: (140KB) Document icon image

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