Latest From The Watch Ashore

Annual General Meeting

This year's AGM was held in Royal Sutton Coldfield where we had a lovely weekend renewing our friendships and catching up on what was happening in the various branches. It was also where we said goodbye and thank you to our outgoing Chairwoman, Sue Williams, and welcomed Christine Payne into the Chair.  We also had a change of National Secretary as Suzanne Spencer took over from Chris Rankin.  In all it was a very successful and happy weekend - you will find more photos and stories on our facebook page..  

Plymouth Merchant Navy Monument

This is where our new Plymouth MN Monument will be built and the Lord Mayor cut the first turf yesterday in the rain. A ceremonial spade was given to the Lord Mayor by the Chairman of the Monument Committee.

Blockade Runners to Spain Memorial

On Saturday 2nd March the unveiling of the Blockade Runners to Spain Memorial took place in Glasgow.. The Sculpture is called "The Warning Shout" and the memorial is commemorating the Seafarers who ran the blockade to deliver aid.  This memorial has taken 15yrs to become a reality but well worth the wait.  Well done to all involved.

Cadet Bon Voyage

Following on from our previous cadet evenings The Facualty of Nautical Studies has given funding for more such events to be held over the next twelve months. The first of these was held on 20th August with  around 30-40 cadets attending. Our first 'BonVoyage' evening in the new venue has been successful and many thanks to Steven @COGCnautical for organising the venue and catering. (As you may know providing food is a great way to attract the cadets to come along). We are very lucky that we have had lots of support for this venture, Seafarer Support and SAIL who provided pens, keyrings, etc as well as leaflets. Joe O'Donnell (AOS) John Hood (Seafarers UK) Ron Bailey (PWC) Elsie Jackson @COGCnautical Andrew Armstrong @COGCnautical and Becky Haldane (Sailors Society). Many thanks to those who also came along to share their seafaring experience.   Such events are invaluable to phase1 cadets who are going to sea for the first time.

"Bon Voyage"

Last month, in collaboration with Elsie Jackson, who is the senior lecturer in charge of Engineering, and Becky Haldane, a Sailor Society chaplain at the Riverside Campus of The City of Glasgow College, our branch hosted a “Bon Voyage” evening for the engineering cadets who have finished phase one and are about to join their first ship.    Most of these cadets have never been on a ship before and have no family connections to the sea, and also for some it would be their first time abroad.    The purpose of the evening was to encourage them to keep in touch with each other, inform them of what support was available, and also to meet other seafarers who shared their experiences of life at sea.   It was difficult to know what information the cadets would be looking for so this was very much trial and error!  We had great support from John Hood, Seafarers UK, Ron Bailey former Harbour Master at Clydeport, and Joe O’Donnell, AOS, who along with a couple of members’ husbands and 2 cadets, who were further on in their training, chatted to the cadets and answered some of the queries raised.   We had gathered leaflets from SAIL and Seafarer Support to hand out as well as downloading the top 5 apps for Seafarers, and information graphs from ISWAN and Seafarerhelp.   The feedback has been that it was a successful evening and hopefully may be repeated with other cadet intakes.  

Titanic Anniversary Dinner

Come and Support the Titanic Anniversary Dinner raising funds MND Association. The event is to be held at the Duke of Cornwall Hotel where the surviving stewardesses stayed when coming into Millbay Dock .The 5 Course meal will be taken from the Dinner Menu from the last dinner onboard the Titanic.(Not all 11 courses, Only 5 courses). The dress code for the dinner will be Black Tie(People have ask to dress in the era 1912 which is ok)

Christmas Greetings

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

Care 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.


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