Floating Christian centre celebrates 20 years of service

The Lightship is celebrating two anniversaries this week. Not only is it 60 years since the ship was launched, it is also 20 years since it was berthed in Cardiff Bay as a floating Christian centre.

The distinctive red ship was launched as Light Vessel 14 from the yard of Philip and Sons shipbuilders of Dartmouth.

The 550 ton vessel was built at a cost of £80,685 and took 11 people to crew the vessel with seven on board at any one time. In 1975 a landing platform was added so that the crews could be changed by helicopter.

From 1984 to 1989, she was stationed off Rhossili, on the Gower Peninsula, in South Wales, where the beam from her light tower warned sailors up to 25 miles away of the dangers of the Helwick Swatch, a treacherous sand bank.

In 1993 she was bought with help from the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation and transformed into a floating Christian centre.

She was one of the first waterfront attractions at Cardiff Bay, with the "berthing ceremony" taking place on 7 October 1993.

Today she is run by the charity Lightship 2000 and serves as a base for Cardiff Bay chaplains. There are rooms for meetings or quiet contemplation, and members of the public can also enjoy a bite to eat in the galley cafe.

The joint anniversaries will be marked with a dinner and auction on Thursday to be joined by Jonathan Jones CBE, Director of Welsh Government Office, London and formerly Chief Executive of Visit Wales.

John Winton, chair of the trustees, said, "The lightship is a unique place, a firm fixture in the eclectic mix of the Bay's attractions.

"Over the years, it has welcomed thousands of visitors from all walks of life and provided affordable, quality refreshment.

"We have also created some excellent partnerships in the Cardiff area under the Corporate Social Responsibility programmes of several companies including KPMG, Full Circle, Associated British ports and the Cardiff Harbour Authority.

"We hope as many people as possible will call in over the next few months and help us celebrate this double anniversary."