A charity worker from Chesterfield has become the godmother of Royal Caribbean International‘s Independence of the Seas.

Elizabeth Hill was nominated by her 12–year–old daughter Alice following the cruiseline’s Search for a Godmother campaign.

Elizabeth Hill meets Maureen Hill

Elizabeth runs the Gamelea Countryside Training Trust, where young people with learning difficulties and children who have been excluded from school help with the animals or take part in music, art or craft activities.

Along with the three other shortlisted entrants, Elizabeth was flown to Finland for a sneak preview of the ship in its final stages of completion.

She said: “We were flown over on a private plane and the captain even carried our luggage. We were treated like celebrities.”

She then returned to Royal Caribbean’s offices where she met the judging panel. “I had a wonderful chat with Steve Redgrave. When I found out I’d won I couldn’t speak, I was laughing and crying at the same time. The best thing is that this will raise the profile of the charity.”

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line UK and Ireland managing director Jo Rzymowska, who was one of the judges, said “It was a difficult decision – all four finalists could have been godmother. It came down to the determination and tenacity that Elizabeth showed.”

Elizabeth will christen the ship on April 30 at Southampton. A total of 4,000 agents will get to experience the ship while it is in port from this weekend, which is expected to lead to an immediate sales boost.

“We always experience a real spike in sales after ship launches, not just for the ship but for the brand as well,” added Rzymowska.

Travel Weekly columnist Maureen Hill, one of the judges, said: “I chose Elizabeth because she brings out the best in people and she’s a very genuine person.”