For his efforts in raising the funding to pay for the memorial to the victims of the Japanese merchant ship Hirano Maru, sunk in the last weeks of World War One, David James has received the prestigious Point of Light Award. As a former serviceman, David spent time serving the British Army in Germany and Libya, where he noticed the graves of British soldiers had markers, inspiring him to commemorate the victims of war in his hometown. David hopes the memorial will commemorate the victims and keep the story alive among younger generations to help them understand the realities of war.
In a personal letter to David, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“You should be enormously proud of your work fundraising for a new memorial to the crew and passengers of the Japanese merchant ship sunk in the final days of World War One. Your compassion and dedication to commemorating these victims is truly exceptional. I wish you every success with your continued work.”
“When I first thought of restoring the memorial over the grave of ten Japanese merchant seamen in Angle, Pembrokeshire I had no idea that it would touch so many people and succeed beyond my wildest expectations. Pembrokeshire people supported me, and so too did many Japanese people from ordinary citizens and dignitaries to HRH the Duke of Gloucester and His Excellency Koji Tsuruoka, Japanese Ambassador to the UK. During my searches I have made many Japanese friends, both in the UK and in Japan, all of whom feel that I have done them a great service, although I did not realise the enormity of it until they explained it to me at the unveiling ceremony. Thus to be awarded the Point of Light is the crowning moment of this whole project and I am humbled and honoured to be presented with it. May I thank those who have noticed my efforts and may I also express my sincere gratitude to all who have supported my nomination for the award.”