It is that time of the year again when we think of all our Watch Ashore friends over the country – I have to say that I don’t know where the year has gone. It must be a sign of getting older. It was so good to meet up with those of you who attended our AGM in Hull earlier this year; a good time was had by all in a lovely venue. The Hull branch members along with husbands supported us well and swelled our numbers at the informal buffet and dinner. They also provided us with some entertainment with a hysterical version of Cinderella. Plans are steaming ahead for our AGM next year which will be in Cheltenham, dates and details have already been circulated. The hotel is in a good location with helpful staff and very nice rooms. Please do consider coming. The Watch Ashore family has suffered some sad losses this year and our thoughts have been with those families and friends. Also I know many of you have struggled with poor health and I hope this next year will be a better healthily one. The Seafarers Link phone calls have been a great success and a blessing to many of you. What a wonderful way to keep in touch and our thanks to Chris Rankin for setting this up and to those volunteers who oversee it. I have again been privileged to represent the Watch Ashore at many events, the Annual General Meeting of Seafarers UK, the Mission to Seafarers Service at Paternoster, laying a wreath at Trinity Gardens at Merchant Navy Day. I did go to London for the Service at St Pauls but owing to the terrible tragedy earlier in the day, this Service was cancelled. However, it was lovely to meet up with the Hull ladies for a cup of tea and a catch up. I would like to wish all of you a very Happy Christmas and a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year. Sue Williams National Chairman
Latest From The Watch Ashore
We at the Watch Ashore are so sorry to hear this news. There aren’t many places where ex MN Seafarers can feel at home. A charity supporting former merchant seamen in need could be forced to move from its Alfold home after a £15 million development project was refused on appeal. Care Ashore was founded in 1920 to assist ex-merchant seafarers and has been established in Alfold. The big money Springbok Estate application - which would have involved 400 new homes in the village - was submitted to help raise capital to improve the quality of its sheltered accommodation facilities. The Planning Inspectorate rejected the appeal on December 1 and the charity said it will assess its options, which include moving away. Berkeley Homes wins appeal Trever Goacher, chief executive at Care Ashore, said: “We are hugely disappointed by this decision. "The existing facilities at Care Ashore, which provides vital charitable support to seafarers in need, will very soon be no longer able to meet future quality standards. "We will take time to consider the inspector’s decision and discuss our options for the future with our trustees and development partner. "We have maintained that if this development does not go ahead, we will need to move to smaller premises elsewhere. "It’s saddening to once more have to consider a move away from the place we have called home for 70 years, and a disheartening prospect for our residents and staff who are an important part of the Alfold village community.”
The Freedom of Plymouth City
A ceremony took place yesterday in the Minster Church of St Andrews, Plymouth, whereby Plymouth City Council handed over the charter which gave the Merchant Navy the freedom of the city. It will be on display on the wall of the Seafarers Chapel so that visitors to the Church can see it. The Lord Mayor attended along with representatives of the Merchant Navy.
Chris Rankin MBE MNM, who is our W.A. National Secretary, laid this wreath on behalf of Seafarers UK on the Barbican Plymouth, following the main service on the Hoe, to commemorate our lost Mercantile Mariners and Fishermen.
Merchant Navy Day 2017
The Watch Ashore was well represented at the Merchant Navy Day Service at Tower Hill, the Chairman of London Branch, Mrs June Ellett read the Homage at the Commemorative Service at Trinity Gardens, and the National Chairman, Mrs Sue Williams laid a wreath. Mrs Ellett did a splendid job and it was a just reward for all the years she has attended and for always promoting the Merchant Navy and the Watch Ashore wherever possible. Mrs Williams said that it was an honour to represent the Watch Ashore on Merchant Navy Day and lay a wreath at Trinity Gardens. It was a very moving service and well supported, also well done to London Transport, this notice board was on display at Tower Hill tube station.
June 25th Day of the Seafarer
Seafarers Matter This year, once again, 25 June will mark the annual Day of the Seafarer (DotS). DotS was established in a resolution adopted by the 2010 Diplomatic Conference in Manila to adopt the revised STCW Convention. Its stated purpose is to recognize the unique contribution made by seafarers from all over the world to international seaborne trade, the world economy and civil society as a whole. The resolution "encourages Governments, shipping organizations, companies, shipowners and all other parties concerned to duly and appropriately promote the Day of the Seafarer and take action to celebrate it meaningfully". This year our theme is "Seafarers Matter". For 2017, we want to particularly engage ports and seafarer centres to demonstrate how much seafarers matter to them. The idea is for ports and seafarer centres to share and showcase best practices in seafarer support and welfare. We want them to organize special activities for seafarers on that Day, for example: social event organised in port to celebrate seafarers public open day at seafarer centres free wi-fi in port for a day etc.
Seafarers UK AGM
Sue Williams, was invited as National Chairman of The Watch Ashore, to the Mansion House in London for the Annual General Meeting of Seafarers UK. It was opened by the Lord Mayor of the City of London, who then chaired the meeting. It was most interesting and she met some lovely people afterwards, all of whom were interested in the Watch Ashore and what we do.
Watch Ashore AGM
Following on from our AGM in Hull I thought I should post something about the Business meeting where around 35 of our members attended. Sue our Chairman told us about how successful Valerie Coleman's MFG's bid to the Aged Veterans fund had been. This money, just under £1million will be used for new accommodation at Mariners Park Liverpool and new research into the needs of veteran Seafarers. Watch Ashore had supported this application. At last year’s AGM, many of our members had written to their MPs asking questions regarding British Companies using manning agencies to avoid paying National Insurance contributions. One MP in particular, gave us a comprehensive reply informing us of the reasons. We also contacted SAIL and were given good advice about pension entitlement and all this information was passed on to the member who had raised the matter for our discussion at the 2016 AGM. Sue had also written to her MP regarding our concerns about the 6 British seamen still detained in India and had received a reply from the Government minister responsible for Asia. the government are very much monitoring the situation and are aware of the Watch Ashore concerns. Ina Bruce from Glasgow, our social media lead, updated the meeting on the success we are achieving with both the Watch Ashore Members Group and our Facebook post which was he project that the MNWB had funded. Thanks to all those members who join in the Members Group and a reminder that if you want to join you should send a request to Ina which will enable her to put you into the closed group. Following a proposal about what our aims should be for the future of the Watch Ashore, a lively discussion took place with many positive comments from the floor …..Food for thought … and the Executive will be following up on these suggestions. Suzanne Spencer was presented with a gift token as an appreciation for all her work as Hon Gen Secretary. Nominations for the post was taken from the floor and Chris Rankin was voted in as the new Hon Gen Secretary. All in an excellent meeting, well done to the Executive and we are looking forward to our 2018 AGM in Cheltenham.