Hunt on for world class captain for Mayflower400 programme

Plans to commemorate one of the world’s most significant voyages are stepping up a gear with the search starting for a chief executive for Mayflower400.

A new post is being created to lead the national and international programme which will commemorate the voyage of the Pilgrim Fathers to the New World in 1620.

A programme of national and international activities and events is being drawn up by members of the Mayflower 400 Compact – a partnership between the towns of Plymouth in the UK, Plymouth Massachusetts, Leiden in Holland and 11 UK cities, towns and villages.

The spirit of the original Mayflower Compact, drafted during the voyage, conveyed the seed of the modern American nation and symbolise the values of freedom and liberty that lie at the heart of all modern democracies. It is also the most tangible symbol of the ‘special relationship’ between the US and the UK.

Adrian Vinken, OBE chair of the Mayflower 40 National Partnership and Plymouth Leadership team said: “This is one of the most significant anniversaries we can commemorate as a city, as a country and as part of the wider world.

“The voyage of the Mayflower changed the world and we will be looking for someone who is comfortable at the helm of a major project, working at a senior national and international level. It is an exciting and huge challenge.”

Leader of Plymouth City Council, Councillor Ian Bowyer said: “The Mayflower 400 anniversary is of huge significance on both sides of the Atlantic and a massive opportunity for Plymouth and other towns and cities connected to the famous voyage, Plans make the most of this anniversary and make sure it leaves a lasting legacy are beginning to shape up. While 2020 seems a long way off, the scale of what is being planned means we need to attract an individual who has the skills and gravitas to lead this globally important programme.”

City partners including the Council, Plymouth University, City College, the City Centre Company, Plymouth Waterfront Partnership and Devon Chamber of Commerce contributing funding for the post as well as providing wider financial support as planning the programme gets into gear.

David Alder, Chief Marketing Officer at the University of Plymouth, added: “The 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage is a huge opportunity for this city to showcase its culture and lifestyle to a global audience. We’ll be searching for candidates that understand the history and legacy of the Mayflower, and have the vision to lead a programme of events that will help establish new ties with America and other countries around the world.”

In Plymouth UK up to £70 million has been committed to progress significant projects to improve leisure and transport infrastructure ahead of this key date, including opening the History Centre, buying the Quality Hotel site and developing the cruise terminal. The Council plans to invest in the Merchants House and Elizabethan House and create a trail linking the heritage sites with the story of the Pilgrim Fathers.

Behind the scenes the team has put together ideas for signature events to mark the historic voyage. Communities from both sides of the Atlantic are exploring ways in which they can inspire through arts, education and cultural, heritage and economic development projects that leave a lasting legacy.

Relationships around key national and international stakeholders are strengthening with the US Ambassador to the UK supporting the programme. Links are developing at local, state and national levels across the States and strong links are being forged with Leiden in Holland and with funding organisations such as the HLF and Arts Council.

Central Government has contributed £500,000 to the national Mayflower 400 programme and has been set up with social media to help spread the word.

The new post holder will report to Destination Plymouth Ltd partnership, which will effectively act as a holding company for Mayflower 400 in Plymouth.

Amanda Lumley, Executive Director of Destination Plymouth, said: “We have already developed some fantastic relationships with partners on both sides of the Atlantic and are looking forward to working with the new Mayflower 400 chief executive to develop our exciting plans to the next stage.”