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Marine industry awards honour past and present during St. John's gala

From left, Tina Jackman, Jim Irving and Iris Petten accepted awards at the Turning the Tide Marine Industry Awards gala Thursday evening at the St. John’s Convention Centre.
From left, Tina Jackman, Jim Irving and Iris Petten accepted awards at the Turning the Tide Marine Industry Awards gala Thursday evening at the St. John’s Convention Centre. - Juanita Mercer

At the second annual Turning the Tide Marine Industry Awards gala Thursday evening at the St. John’s Convention Centre, the who’s who of Newfoundland society gathered, but three individuals stood out among the crowd of attendees: Jim Irving, Tina Jackman and Iris Petten, who all accepted awards at the event.

The awards are designed to honour leadership and excellence in today’s marine industry, but also pay tribute to the province’s marine heritage with a special award of Historical Marine Significance.

Receiving that award was Tina Jackman, who accepted it for the heroic efforts of her great-great-grandfather Capt. William Jackman.

On Oct. 9, 1867, the fishing schooner Sea Clipper ran aground in a storm off the Spotted Islands in Labrador. Jackman jumped into the ocean and swam to and from the schooner 27 times, carrying each person on board safely to shore.

Gala organizers said Jackman is an obvious recipient for the Historical Marine Significance honour, not just for his heroic act, but for his example of citizenship.

Tina Jackman said her great-great-grandfather influenced who she is today through the example he set for his family.

“My dad was very adamant about us as a family learning about our heritage and lineage,” Jackman said. “My dad kept it very basic — just that he came from a family of sealers and whalers, that they were very passionate about their profession, took it seriously, held their crew in high respect and that was their livelihood. From that, they were very strong, determined individuals, and I saw that in my own dad, and he always shared that with us.”

Another honour awarded posthumously was the Industry Lifetime Achievement Award for Ches Penney, which was accepted by Penney’s wife, Iris Petten.

A well-known business leader in many sectors, Penney’s many successful businesses included numerous ventures in the marine industry, with forays into coastal shipping, ship repair, offshore tankers and the fishery.

Petten said that while she was thrilled to accept the award on his behalf, she was also sad that he wasn’t there to accept it himself.

“Still, after he’s gone, remembering him in such a special way, and he was a very humble man, he would be saying, ‘Why are they doing this? Because I really didn’t do anything.’ But I’m sure deep down inside he would be very happy.”

Petten said Penney’s legacy continues after his death last year.

“Just looking at his involvement with Ocean Choice alone, that was over 300 communities that they do business in, communities across Newfoundland, and that’s just in one business that he was involved in. The impact that would have meant, so you multiply that by many businesses, it certainly is a big footprint.”

While the awards gala paid tribute to individuals posthumously, it also recognized current excellence and leadership.

Receiving the Industry Leadership and Excellence Award was Atlantic Towing Ltd., accepted by co-chief executive officer of J.D. Irving, Jim Irving.

Irving brushed off personal praise, instead acknowledging the many people involved in the business who keep it running day to day.

“We’ve got a lot of very good men and women in the business and they’re working hard,” he said. “We have a lot of employees in different businesses, but we’re very active in offshore oil and gas with a number of ships, and with crews all made up of folks from all across Newfoundland. So, we’re very pleased to be a part of the community.”

This year’s gala is looking to the future, with the announcement of a new award to be added next year: the Industry Award for Innovation. The fourth category will recognize smaller businesses, research groups, institutions and entrepreneurs.

juanita.mercer@thetelegram.com

Twitter: juanitamercer_

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