Latest From The Watch Ashore

Russian Convoy Medal

Our congratulations go to Gordon Bruty on being told he'll finally receive a very belated medal for his time with the Russian Convoys in WWII.  (His wife Jenny is a member of the Plymouth Branch)

Triennial Plymouth - May 2012

The National Triennial was held at the Holiday Inn, Plymouth 10th 11th 12th May 2012. As you can imagine the 2012 committee were tremendously thankful that their plotting and planning went off so well, that everyone enjoyed themselves, and that the crucial meeting was conducted in a cheerful spirit of moving forward to the needs of the next few years. The star of the show of course, was the weather. It was amazing that the three days of brilliant weather coincided so precisely with our celebrations. Monday morning, it was back to normal, cold, blustery and wet! We were so lucky. The welcome night was a great success. The room was all golden, lovely background music, Val Bugden-Cawsey had us in stitches, and Sue Vickery, Christine Payne and Joan Dodge did their modern seafaring version of 'Three little Maids', with words by Sue Vickery and Barbara Everett. A very sunny morning for the Civic Reception in the Council Chambers, where the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress chatted to everybody. The Lord Mayor spoke about loosing his big brother at sea in WW2 and only left after being chivied by Steve the Macebearer at 12 o'clock. No time then for shopping before lunch! But with the good weather a number of our members were able to walk around the Hoe and Barbican in the afternoon. The Dinner went well, the tables resplendent with all the colourfully wrapped gifts, the food was good, speeches likewise with a wonderful Toast to the City by the Plymouth Chairman, Helen Crofts. Mike Sutherland, retired Harbour Master of Falmouth Docks, received two cheques, each for £700, from Sue Vickery, for the National and, in particular, the Falmouth Branch of the Missions to Seafarers. This had been Sue's National Chairman's charity which was collected over 3 years by the Branches. The Raffle also did very well. A great deal was sorted out in the Council Meeting so that by the Triennial Meeting Pat Warren and the Glasgow Branch withdrew their motions because they were similar to those of the Plymouth Branch and would have caused many amendments. So with a few minor changes the Plymouth motions were carried and also that a postal vote for motions should be allowed in the future. There will be a redraft of Rule 4. Chris Rankin took over as National Chairman and following the earlier motion, Mary Pounder was proposed from the floor and became Vice Chairman. Sandra Walker, after six years service handed over the purse strings to Helen Rendle. It was agreed that, as next year is the 80th Anniversary of the WA, and the propsed venue is London, an Executive member would be needed. As there were no volunteers Judy Slator agreed to continue for one more year. The meeting finished in good time and after a buffet lunch in the Penthouse, with that magnificent view of the Hoe and Sound, the coach left for Charlestown. Two Tall Ships were in the harbour and members reported that they had enjoyed the Museum and could have spent more time there! Some of us just collapsed in the sunshine with a cup of tea! The Bosun's Diner, of which we had some doubts as it had just changed hands, put on an excellent, fresh and light pork supper and on our return to the Holiday Inn some of us still had the stamina to party! The Watch Ashore was well represented by Branch members at the Morning Service in the Minster Church of St. Andrew. Chris Rankin, as our new National Chairman, read a lesson. The congregation sang 'For those in peril on the sea' and the Vicar of St. Andrew's read the Watch Ashore Prayer. If that is to be the last Triennial Meeting we went out on a high and put on a memorable event. We should be relieved and very proud that it all went off so well, and all take a pat on the back for our fund raising and hard work..


The National AGM was held at the Holiday Inn, Tadcaster Road, York on the 15th and 16th April 2011. After being warmly welcomed by the Nat. Executive Committee in the afternoon the branches met up together for the first evening entertainment. A most enjoyable buffet meal was followed by a very talented entertainer, Judith Hibbert who had performed at our previous Triennial in Hull, and had been a great hit with the ladies on that occasion. She treated us again and, as she described it, as an affectionate tribute to some of our greats such as Gracie Fields, Joyce Grenville and many more with the aid of a trunk containing a selection of various props such as a wonderful variety of hats! The room just filled with laughter the whole time she performed. Formal dinner group photo with Mark Longford and his wife Kate The buffet evening always gives the members the chance to catch up with each other's news and as usual there was no shortage of conversation! The AGM meeting was held on the Saturday morning and as well as the normal business there was a good discussion on other topics such as the growing trend of worldwide piracy being a particular concern. The rest of the day was free for the ladies to explore York's many attractions and to do some serious shopping! Later the ladies met up for the wine reception followed by the formal dinner with our main guest speaker, Mr Mark Longford, Operations Manager of the Navigators and General  Insurance Company. Through researching his company's history involving a certain Captain H. Coombs he discovered the link between the Navigators, as it's affectionately known, and The Watch Ashore as Captain Coomb's wife Irene had helped found it. The company is celebrating its ninetieth anniversary this year 2011 and so this was an opportunity to celebrate together, especially with a gifted glass of champagne each! Mark Longford's speech was a fascinating insight into the history of Captain Coombs and the setting up of the Navigators which did so much to help improve extremely difficult conditions in the Merchant Navy especially in the 1920s. The speech can be read in full on On the Sunday morning the members were taken by coach to Castle Howard, an 18th century house situated in 1000 acres of beautiful parkland with temples, statues lakes and fountains. During the visit the group enjoyed a Victorian Etiquette Afternoon Tea finishing with tea leaf readings which held a few surprises! Nat. Chairman Margaret Gray handing over floral arrangement to Mr Mark Longford at formal dinner. On returning to the hotel later in the afternoon farewells were made to those returning home that day while a few remained to stay an extra night. General opinion was it had been a very successful weekend and The Watch Ashore now looks forward to our Triennial in Plymouth on the 10th 11th 12th May next year 2012 which promises to be yet another special Triennial. Download Captain William H. Coombs and ‘The Navigators’ based on a talk given to members and guests of The Watch Ashore to commemorate the 90th Anniversary of Navigators & General on 1 March 2011. (Mark Longford FCII, Operations Manager, Navigators & General. Spring 2011) >>

Watch Ashore at Memorial - Nautilus Telegraph

Members of the Watch Ashore’s Glasgow and Edinburgh branches are pictured attending the wreath-laying ceremony at Scotland’s Merchant Navy Memorial in Leith following the annual Scottish Seafarer’ Service on Sunday 21 November. National chairwoman Margaret Gray, who is pictured with the group, told the Telegraph: ‘The memorial is a wonderful achievement for the MB Memorial Trust, who did marvellous work in achieving the building of the memorial so quickly die to generous donations, and we were delighted as an association to attend.’ The memorial was unveiled and dedicated by the Princess Royal on 16 November, who spike of the sacrifice of seafarers during conflict and of the continuing hazards of life at sea. The Watch Ashore was formed in 1933 and has a long history of association with the MN. It consists of wives, partners, sisters and mothers of MN officers, campaigning throughout the years for better conditions on ships and for the rights of officers, as well as enjoying companionship and support for one another. It continues to look for new members and there are branches through the country – including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Sunderland, Humber, Cardiff, London, Southampton and Plymouth. Nautilus Telegraph  Chairman Mrs Margaret Gray will again be laying a wreath on the Sunday 20th November 2011

Mission to Seafarers Karaoke

Last year it was decided to purchase a new, smaller PA system to replace our older cumbersome version which had become very difficult and costly to transport to our AGM's, and it was suggested that the Mission to Seafarers may be interested in being the recipient of the old system. Chris Rankin spoke to the Mission Chairman and asked if they would like the system and last week received a telephone call inviting her and husband John to attend a pre Regatta bash at Fowey Mission to Seafarers where the PA system would be handed over to Captain Mike Sutherland and Elaine Elliott. The Mission was delighted to receive the system and has big plans for future events including karaoke!!  Attached photo shows Mike Sutherland handed over a Thankyou Certificate on behalf of the Mission.  

Help End Piracy

Please support the national campaign being backed by 16 international industry organisations to end Piracy. Help get the number of signatures to half a million signatures to be taken to government by the International Maritime Organisation's World Maritime Day on 23 September.


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