Former Dunmurry HS pupil in command of the Lord
'Lord Nelson' with 'Bob Allen' alongside.
LAMBEG man who served as a bosun during the Tall Ships memorable
visit to Belfast in 1991 will be in command of the sailing
vessel Lord Nelson when she ties up in the city next Friday at
the start of its 2008 Maritime Festival.
The intervening 17 years have seen former
Dunmurry High School pupil Neil Duncan work his way through the
nautical ranks to achieve the position of Relief Captain on
board the Jubilee Sailing Trust vessel which is specially
adapted to accommodate people with physical disabilities.
His parents Monica and Lesley said their son
was 'truly happy to be involved in assisting people of all
physical abilities to take an active and equal part in square
They explained his love of ships dated back
to his membership of Lisburn Sea Cadets, which he joined at the
age of 11. "Most of all he enjoyed offshore training courses
aboard T.S. Royalist, the Sea Cadet Corps sailing brig where he
learned seamanship and related nautical skills," they added.
Neil served his apprenticeship as a motor
vehicle technician at Dornans Service Station but in 1990 the
lure of the sea proved too much and he joined the permanent crew
of Royalist as Bosun.
This allowed him to pass on his knowledge and
skills to younger cadets until 1994 when he joined the Essex
based Cirdan Trust and became Chief Officer of the vessel 'Queen
Galadriel' working with disadvantaged young people.
He left the Trust to become a Service
Engineer for Fuel Distributors J.R. Rix but occasionally sailed
on small coastal vessels to enhance his engineering experience.
In 1997 Neil returned to T.S. Royalist where
he sailed as Engineering Officer and Relief Sailing Officer.
However, engineering was not to become his
first calling as he really wanted to get back to his passion of
hands on sailing.
In 1998 a vacancy arose for a permanent bosun
on board Lord Nelson and Neil obtained the position. He became
Second Mate, First Mate and eventually Chief Officer, the
vessel's Second in Command.
"This means it is his responsibility to act
as Relief First Officer and Relief Captain. It is in this role
he will skipper Lord Nelson next Friday," they added.
Neil's parents said even his hobbies have a
"He is a driving force behind the Little Brig
Sailing Trust whose vessel 'Bob Allen' will attend the Liverpool
Maritime Festival," they explained.
Neil is married to Amy and the couple live on
the Isle of Wight.
He is a keen walker, canoeist and skier as well
as a qualified open water diver.