For grandfather Dave Hill it was an 18ft long labour of love that was hidden away in his Doncaster garage.
The former Royal Navy sailor spent hours creating painstaking details on the model of the aircraft carrier HMS Implacable.
He would find his materials around the house, and use them to build the vessel as it was gradually put together at his home on Mallard Avenue, Barnby Dun.
Small plastic building bricks, pieces of bottles and boxes – even the net bags used in packaging satsumas were requisitioned to the construction effort as his creation took shape.
But tragically, Dave did not live to see the completion of his leviathan.
After working on the project for over a year, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. As he become more poorly in 2017, he stopped work on the model, and finally lost his battle with the disease in February 2018. He was aged 69.
Now, his project is set to be completed – by volunteers at a well-known Doncaster museum where Dave’s model is to be put on display.
The 1:48 scale ship is being transported from Barnby Dun to the Victoria Cross Trust’s Ashworth Barracks military museum on Cedar Road in Balby. And volunteers from the museum are going to complete the work, which includes creating the model Seafire fighter aircraft Dave had planned for the deck.
Too big to pack into a car boot, the model will be transported by lorry by Carcroft-based JMS of Doncaster Ltd, who answered an appeal to help move it.
Dave’s daughters Jess Tibbitts, from Edenthorpe, and Steph Ireland, from Hunters Bar, Sheffield, are proud of their dad – and believe he would be delighted to see the boat heading the the museum, where he was a frequent visitor who admired the venue.
Dave was in the Navy for 10 years between 1965 and 1975. He served on boats including HMS Cavalier, HMS HMS Beachampton, and HMS Tiger.
Jess and Steph have fond memories of a trip to the Chatham Historic dockyard, where Cavalier is preserved, where he showed them his old bunk.
Jess said: “Dad used to make model boats every since he was a child. As a boy he used to create them and take them into Rivelin Woods in Sheffield, near where he lived at the time.
“After he left the Navy, he worked at the Royal Mail in Sheffield, and the boats he made got bigger and bigger.”
He initially made a model of HMS Cavalier. Sadly this was damaged when a dog ate part of it. Then he moved on to make a model of HMS Vanguard. That was donated to the South Yorkshire Transport Museum in Rotherham after he had completed it.
Dave moved to Doncaster from High Green, Sheffield, after he retired, to be closer to his grandchildren..
HMS Implacable was his final project.
“He loved experimenting with bits and pieces on the model. He used nets from satsuma packaging on rubber dinghys on the side of the boat,” said Jess. “He used little plastic bricks too. The kids toy boxes were never safe!
“This was the biggest one he did. He spend hours a day on it. If he wasn’t in the garage he’s be researching how to make something.
“Dad had been to Ashworth Barracks museum a few times – he loved it, and had mentioned it as a possible site where he’d like to offer the model.
“He did not quite finish it. He envisaged a row of Seafire planes, some looking like they’d just landed, and some as though they were about to take off. The water mark on the boat still needed painting too.
“My six-year-old and my eight-year-old would have loved to have played with it.”
He built the boat around a plywood frame and filled it with expanding foam. He left holes so any spiders that got in could climb out again.
In later years, Dave suffered from arthritis in his fingers, but still continued with his work.
“We will have a family visit to the museum to see it in place,” said Steph.
“We’re so proud of dad, and he would have loved to have seen the boat at the museum.”
Gary Stapleton, chairman of the Victoria Cross Trust, said some its its volunteers would complete the work, and he would appeal for members of the community to get involved if they were interested.
He said: “When I saw the boat, my reaction was the same as everyone else’s – it was just ‘wow’.
“We put out an appeal to move it to the museum, because it is so big. JMS of Doncaster came forward. We’re grateful to them and we’ll invite their staff to the museum for a private tour as a thank-you.”