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Obituary: Roy Snowden, major force in campaign to preserve SS Nomadic

Published 07/12/2015

Roy Snowden (left) with maritime historian William H Miller
Roy Snowden (left) with maritime historian William H Miller

Roy Snowden, who has died at 70, was a major figure in the campaign to save the Nomadic - Titanic's tender vessel - now a star attraction in the Belfast Harbour Estate.

He canvassed public support for the historic ship and his hard work led to the White Star Line vessel's return to Belfast followed by its refurbishment.

Roy Snowden was educated at Wallace High School in Lisburn and excelled at several sports. He played hockey for the Ulster Schools team, cricket for Dunmurry and soccer for the Dunmurry Boys' team.

In his business life he was for 20 years the general manager of Holmes Catering Services until he retired early for health reasons.

The first push for a Save The Nomadic campaign led to the formation of the Nomadic Preservation Society, of which Roy was a founder-member and the first chairman.

The Nomadic, which was the last maritime link with the Harland & Wolff-built Titanic, had ended up as a floating restaurant in Paris. It was bought by Stormont in January 2006 and brought back to Belfast.

In October that year the Department for Social Development set up the Nomadic Charitable Trust, of which Roy was appointed a board member. The aim was to preserve and restore the vessel as an important visitor attraction in Belfast Harbour. This was successful and the Nomadic recently became an official part of Titanic Belfast.

Mr Snowden was also Northern Ireland secretary of the World Shipping Society, with important contacts all over the globe.

David Scott-Beddard, the project manager of the Nomadic initiative, worked closely with him. He said: "Roy put a colossal amount of work into the project. He had an amazing range of contacts and he had a great ability to draw people in with his sheer enthusiasm. He was a very kind man who, despite the challenges, never seemed to lose his temper. The Nomadic is his legacy."

David Young, another friend and colleague, said: "The Nomadic was his life. He talked about nothing else. He was an articulate man who knew a great deal about world shipping, but the Nomadic was the love of his life. He will be a tremendous loss."

Denis Rooney, who was chairman of the Nomadic Charitable Trust, said: "Roy was very passionate about the Nomadic and he put a great of time and effort into it."

He is survived by his widow Geraldine, sons Mark and Michael, his five grandchildren and wider family circle.

ALF McCREARY

Belfast Telegraph

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