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Pirates galore as His Excellency presents prizes 13 September 2008

His Excellency Vice-Admiral Sir Paul Haddacks and Lady Haddacks found themselves in the company of hundreds of shipmates as they presented the prizes at the end of the Family Library’s Summer Reading Scheme.

The Department of Education library, in Westmoreland Road, Douglas, challenged its young members to become ‘Press Gang Pirates’ and embark on ‘The Great Reading Adventure’. SRS

The children’s colourful galleons – mounted on a huge map on the library wall – moved forward each time they finished one of five books they were tasked with reading over the summer holidays.

Participants steered their ships through the tricky waters of the Isles of Mann, negotiating such landmarks as Shark Island and the Silly Isle and passing such places as Craine’s Cove and MH Quays, to reach their destination and win the treasure. In honour of the VIP guests, the map also featured Sir Haddacks Plaice and Lady Penny’s Bay.

This year for the first time there was a team element to the scheme called Crew Chase. The record 215 children who signed up formed red and blue teams.

On Saturday the library was packed with young pirates wearing eye patches and wielding cutlasses as His Excellency and Lady Haddacks handed out certificates to the 147 children who completed the challenge.

The children who scored the most points for their teams – James Stanley for the red team and Daniel Bailey for the winning blue team – also received prizes.

Children welcomed His Excellency with a big pirate shout of ‘Aargh.’ His Excellency said:

‘Reading is such an important skill and reading for pleasure and enjoyment is something you will never get out of the habit of doing.’

He congratulated Librarian-in-Charge Mary Cousins and her team for their hard work in creating the scheme. srs

He said:

‘You have all come out looking like marvellous pirates today. But there are real pirates out there and they aren’t very nice at all. So, all of you, join the Navy!’

Education Minister Anne Craine MHK thanked His Excellency and Lady Haddacks for handing out the prizes. She said the scheme had been a ‘fantastic effort’ by all concerned.

She said the Island had a proud history of seafaring, with some famous Manx names achieving nautical fame. One the children might not have heard of was Captain Crowe, who set off for the Caribbean more than 200 years ago with 60 crew and 16 guns. He saw ships following him and mistook them for French and spent the night fighting them. When daylight came he realised they were British!

‘He only had one eye, but we are told it goes down in history as a piercer of an eye!’ said the Minister.

Four members of Douglas Lifeboat crew officially launched The Great Reading Adventure in June, handing out packs to the young pirates containing bandanas, badges and maps to help children chart their course. They were invited back to Saturday’s ceremony to receive a cheque for £165.60, the money raised at the library over the summer.

Finally the top scorers for the red and blue teams presented His Excellency and Lady Haddacks with gifts – and, suitably for a Navy man, His Excellency’s was a bottle of rum shaped from chocolate!

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