Plymouth’s progress report for Mayflower 400 commemorations

Plymouth is marking 1,000 days to go until the Mayflower 400 anniversary with a campaign to highlight the opportunities to #GetOnBoard2020.

As the year 2020 looms on the horizon and more details about the preparations are being shared, organisations across the city are being encouraged to ‘Get on Board’ to create their own celebratory events.

Mayflower 400 chief executive, Charles Hackett, said: “The #GetOnBoard2020 campaign gives the people of Plymouth the chance to own these commemorations and for businesses to maximise the opportunities on offer.

“We’re using 21st century technology to highlight the importance of an event that happened nearly 400 years ago and the Mayflower 400 UK social media pages will be sharing videos from organisations who have already pledged to get on board. We would love more people to get involved and pledge their involvement.”

As well as encouraging participation from local communities, a huge range of work is underway to prepare Plymouth for 2020. Hot on the heels of the latest update on all the building projects underway that will transform the city centre,

Plymouth’s progress to put its commemorations on the local, regional and global stage is also in spotlight and the Mayflower 400 team has outlined the projects designed to inspire, educate and commemorate the momentous occasion for local people and visitors.

Charles said: “Mayflower 400 gives Plymouth a fantastic opportunity to raise its profile as Britain’s Ocean City and to showcase this amazing city both nationally and internationally. It’s incredibly difficult to single out just a few developments as we are making great progress across so many areas.

“We are raising Plymouth’s profile as Britain’s Ocean City through the Mayflower 400 programme with some highly successful lobbying within government in the UK and US.

“Our partner destinations across the UK as well as US and Europe are working up their own programmes but joining forces with us on the national Mayflower Trail and on international marketing opportunities – these are beginning to pay off.”

A report being discussed at Scrutiny on January 3, highlights some of the achievements to raise the city’s profile so far including the US Ambassador reception in September 2016, £500,000 secured from Visit Britain to develop the national Mayflower Trail, the UK Inbound conference in February 2017, and ongoing lobbing meetings with the Secretary of State, Tourism Minister, as well as senior Department of Industry and Trade, Department of Culture, Music and Sport.

Downing Street has endorsed Mayflower 400 as a national event and the Prime Minister has appointed a government ‘Mayflower Special Representative’ to co-ordinate the engagement of various Whitehall departments with the programme and to ‘ensure that the United Kingdom plays a full and active role in the Mayflower Anniversary Commemorations.’

The events calendar is beginning to fill up with opening and closing ‘Illuminate’ ceremonies in November 2019 and 2020, which will build on the amazing event held last month at the Royal William Yard. A week-long festival, the ‘Mayflower Muster’, is earmarked for September 2020. The muster will be made up of a wide range of events on the sea, the land and in the sky, including major military activity.

Other areas of progress
• Education: Sharing the Mayflower story and its relevance today across all syllabus areas in key stages 1, 2 and 3 in our schools as well as nationally through the Youth Parliament. A working group has been set up within the university to promote Mayflower within higher education
• Sport: Argyle Community Trust appointed to develop the Mayflower sports offer. They have already secured buy-in from key local, regional and national partners.
• Volunteering: Make A Difference for Mayflower has seen 46 businesses sign up so far and 184 volunteers deliver 1,788 hours of volunteering time. The Mayflower Makers scheme, due to start shortly, aims to provide training for people to become Mayflower Ambassadors. Taxi drivers are already being trained to be ambassadors. So far around 140 people have shown interest in getting involved.
• The Mayflower 400 Plymouth Community Fund will be launched in April 2018 and is designed to provide support for groups and communities to play an active part in Mayflower 2020.
• Over 100 expressions of interest have been submitted to the Mayflower Cultural Fund

Charles said: “This is really beginning to take shape and I’m thrilled with the enthusiasm people from all walks of life have shown in getting on board this incredible opportunity.

“We’re expecting the calendar of events to grow rapidly as more organisations choose to get on board over the next 1,000 days and hope to see events of all scales engaging with thousands of residents across Plymouth.”


2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage, one of the most influential journeys in global history and a defining moment in the shared history of Britain, the US and the Netherlands. Plymouth plays a key role in the celebrations as the final departure point from Britain for the Pilgrims before they set sail to America.

Work is ongoing to produce a ‘Mayflower Trail’, which will link 12 destinations across the UK, including Plymouth, to drive visitors across all locations involved in the Mayflower story. For more information visit

Organisations who wish to #GetOnBoard2020 can find more information at