MIAMI, April 18 2008
ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL NAMES ELIZABETH HILL FROM DERBYSHIRE AS GODMOTHER FOR ITS NEW SHIP, INDEPENDENCE OF THE SEAS
- Royal Caribbean International today announced that Elizabeth Hill from Chesterfield in Derbyshire has been selected as Godmother of Independence of the Seas, the word's largest and most innovative cruise ship, which arrives in Southampton on Friday, 25th April 2008. Independence of the Seas will spend her maiden season sailing from Southampton.
Elizabeth Hill was selected by a panel of judges including Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Sir Steve Redgrave of the cruise line's charity partner, the Steve Redgrave Fund, for her work with children and young people. Nominated by her daughter Alice aged 12, Elizabeth set up a charity, the Gamelea Countryside Training Trust based on a farm, which helps young people with physical or learning disabilities and those who have failed in school and are in danger of social exclusion.
This is the first time a cruise line has ever bestowed the honour of Godmother on a member of the UK public who has done extraordinary work to improve the lives of young people. Previous Godmothers include Lauren Bacall, Whoopi Goldberg, Steffi Graff and Her Majesty Queen Sonja of Norway.
Royal Caribbean International launched its first-ever nationwide search for a Godmother on 24th March 2008 in conjunction with ITV, the UK's biggest commercial television station and the Steve Redgrave Fund, which works to improve and enhance opportunities for children and young people in the UK.
The search for this special lady generated more than 1,700 nominations through a dedicated website, www.searchforagodmother.co.uk
A short list of the four Godmother finalists that were selected was announced earlier this week and included Barbara Natasegara from Cardiff; Elizabeth Hill from Chesterfield in Derbyshire; Madeleine Henry from Southampton and Sue Stones from Bakewell in Derbyshire. The ladies were flown to Turku, Finland on Wednesday 16th April for a private tour of Independence of the Seas with Richard Fain and Captain Teo Strazcic.
As Godmother, Elizabeth will have an honorary role in the official ship naming ceremonies on 30th April in Southampton, where she will participate in the ribbon-cutting ceremony and enjoy a VIP experience onboard Independence of the Seas' inaugural voyage.
"Elizabeth Hill has demonstrated exceptional courage, determination and dedication, embodying the woman we are looking for in our search for Godmother of Independence of the Seas," said Fain. "We are humbled and excited to be able to bring recognition to someone who has selflessly given so much to so many."
Elizabeth said: "I feel very blessed to be given this opportunity to raise the profile of our charity through association with the Steve Redgrave Fund and Royal Caribbean. Hopefully it will allow us to help more children. The whole experience has been wonderful from beginning to end. It's really such an enormous ship, and I've felt so privileged to be part of the launch and made to feel so special. I've really been made to feel like a true superstar, and it will go down in my memory forever."
Elizabeth will also receive a decade of cruising for two with Royal Caribbean International and have a formal portrait of herself displayed onboard the new ship.