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News Archive 2010

December 2010

Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society Expresses Concern over Banks Proposed Abolition of Cheques

The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society is concerned about the Banks’ proposals through the Payments Council to abolish cheques in 2018.

The primary reason for doing so would appear to be cost. The final decision will be taken in 2016 subject to the acceptability and usage of alternatives; direct debit, standing orders, credit cards, pre-payment cards, the internet / mobile phones.

The Society, along with other charities and voluntary organisations, is concerned about abolition for a number of reasons key among which are:

  • Reduced contact with our beneficiaries.
  • Loss of spontaneous donations (about 60% of our voluntary donations are by cheque).
  • Reduced personal contact with our donors – cheques are often accompanied by letters or notes to which we respond Increased administration.
  • Less fraud with cheques than on-line or with cards.

In addition:

  • Cheques are tangible, provide a clear audit trail and can be used any where at any time and for any amount.
  • Cheques provide control and choice over when to pay in (and into which account) No technology is required.
  • Many people will revert to cash with the attendant risk of theft, and the black economy will grow.

The Society believes there is a real risk that the proposal may become a self-fulfilling prophecy unless organisations that are likely to be affected make their concerns known well in advance of the decision date.

 

October 2010

Jingle All The Way With Chichester Maritime Charity

Leading seafaring charity the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society has officially launched its annual Christmas Card Appeal with the help of the Mayor of Chichester, Councillor Michael Woolley.

The charity, which offers financial support to retired and incapacitated seafarers, launched the seasonal Christmas card shop at its North Pallant Premises in Chichester on Tuesday (October 12th).

The cards, many of which feature maritime scenes, are exclusively available through the Society with every penny raised going directly to help people in need who have spent their lives at sea or who have been involved in a wreck, to ensure they, and their families, enjoy the standard of living they deserve. This year’s appeal is significant as it coincides with the Year of the Seafarer which pays tribute to the world’s seafarers for their unique contribution to society and in recognition of the risks they shoulder in the execution of their duties in an often hostile environment.

Throughout its 171-year history, the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society has helped in hundreds of thousands of cases, providing support to the seafaring, and ex-seafaring community at times of crisis and financial need. The Society also works with seafarers who have made their living at sea, but found their livelihoods cut short either through injury or illness. The charity specialises in providing specific items which are needed in a crisis, such as replacement washing machines or fridge freezers and covers the cost of equipment required due to a medical condition, such as mobility scooters, stairlifts, adjustable beds or riser/recliner chairs.

The Society also helps with priority debts and essential household repairs – things which can make a huge difference to an individual’s quality of life but which they just cannot afford because they are on a low fixed income and have no savings.

Although the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society is one of the UK’s smaller charities its annual income in the past year of over £1.6 million allowed it to provide financial assistance in nearly 3,000 cases of need ensuring that many families and individuals living alone are able to enjoy a standard of living and quality of life that they could otherwise not afford.

“Each year, the UK’s maritime industry contributes almost £80 billion to the country’s economy, and during both world wars the industry was central to the maintenance of the war effort,”

Commodore Malcolm Williams CBE RN, Chief Executive of the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society explains.

“Although shipping levels have reduced over recent years, the risks still exist with injuries and deaths at sea unfortunately still all too common and with shipwrecks happening more frequently than you might imagine. The UK’s merchant seafarers and fishermen travel treacherous seas every day – if you look around your home at the consumer goods we take for granted, the food on your table, it’s quite obvious the standard of living we enjoy would not be possible without merchant mariners and fishermen.

“We believe the Society’s Christmas, Birthday and Correspondence cards make a most attractive collection and the Christmas Appeal is our only national fundraising activity.

“All cards purchased and donations made make a vital contribution towards our life-enhancing, and sometimes life-changing, work.”

To purchase the cards, either visit the Society’s shop at 1 North Pallant Chichester (open 10am – 4pm Monday to Friday and 10am – 1pm Saturday (from 13th November) call 01243 789 329 to request a brochure.

The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society relies greatly on the generosity of the public and it very much needs your help in order to provide assistance for the next 171 years. Donating is easy – either click here to donate online, or send your donation to the Society’s office at 1 North Pallant, Chichester PO19 1TL

 

Rescuers Recognised at the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society’s Annual Skill and Gallantry Awards Ceremony

A Dunbar man, who risked his life in a dangerous sea rescue, has been honoured at the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society’s Skill and Gallantry Awards.

Admiral Sir Jonathon Band GCB ADC, friend to the Society, presented the award to Lifeboat Coxswain Gary Fairbairn from RNLI Dunbar for his ‘outstanding seamanship and teamwork’ in rescuing a sailor and his wife whose yacht was being tossed around in treacherous seas north east of Dunbar.

The Society, which celebrates its 171st anniversary in this, the Year of the Seafarer, supports ex-merchant seafarers and fishermen in times of financial hardship. The awards were presented to sea rescue heroes and those who have given outstanding service to the Society at Fishmongers’ Hall, London Bridge on Tuesday (5th October).

The Lady Swaythling Trophy was awarded to Mr Fairbairn for his bravery and quick thinking when two sailors became caught in extreme weather conditions on 15 May last year. Their yacht was reported to have suffered two knockdowns and was drifting rapidly towards the shore of the Firth of Forth in the extreme weather conditions.

As Coxswain Fairbairn, set off with his crew across the treacherous seas towards the yacht, the lifeboat itself was damaged and almost capsized when it fell 10 metres from the crest of a large wave. Despite being hit by several breaking seas resulting in the fendering being torn away, the bow fairlead unlatching and the salvage pump breaking free twice, the lifeboat ploughed on towards the struggling yacht.

When the crew located the yacht – itself a difficult task in the high seas – the lifeboat faced the perilous task of getting alongside to retrieve the crew without causing a collision.

After several attempts, Coxswain Fairbairn managed to get alongside the vessel and drag the couple aboard to safety. The yacht was abandoned since the conditions were too dangerous to tow it back to shore.

Founded in 1839 the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners’ Royal Benevolent Society’s main aim is to provide financial help to merchant seafarers, fishermen and their dependants who are in need. Grants are provided to ex- seafarers or their widows, either as a six-monthly or special one off payment to meet particular needs.

 

Air-Sea Rescue Crews Recognised at The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society’s Annual Skill and Gallantry Awards Ceremony

Cornish air and sea crews, who have risked their lives in dangerous sea rescues, have been honoured at the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society’s Skill and Gallantry Awards ceremony.

Admiral Sir Jonathon Band GCB ADC, friend to the Society, presented awards to the crew of “Rescue 193” from RNAS Culdrose and Inshore Lifeboat Helmsman Mark Morris and Crew member Aaron Trebilcock for their bravery in two sea rescues at Fishmongers’ Hall, London Bridge, on Tuesday (5th October).

The Society, which celebrated its 171st anniversary in this, the Year of the Seafarer, supports ex-merchant seafarers and fishermen in times of financial hardship.

The crew of “Rescue 193” from RNAS Culdrose, were awarded The Edward & Maisie Lewis Award for their ‘professionalism, teamwork, determination and courage’ in saving the lives of four trawlermen.

On 31 December 2009, they received a mayday call from a fishing vessel on fire 50 miles south of the Isles of Scilly. Having lost all power due to fire damage and being unable to inflate their life raft, the trawler’s crew were perched perilously on the last 3ft of stern in stormy conditions.

Despite the significant risk to their own safety, the crew of “Rescue 193” hovered close to the vessel and winched Petty Officer Aircrewman Lacy down to the pitching and rolling deck. However as the boat pitched and rolled in the rough seas, he was plunged into the icy waters of the Atlantic. After being recovered back to the helicopter and despite his ordeal, he elected to go back down for a second rescue attempt.

This time he was successful and all four men were winched safely off the fire-damaged trawler. Petty Officer Lacy was given an individual commendation for his bravery.

The Emile Robin Award was presented to RNLI Newquay Inshore Lifeboat Helmsman Mark Morris with commendation to Crew member Aaron Trebilcock, for their ‘good judgement, courage and determination’ in rescuing two runners trapped by the tide near Fern Cove on the Newquay coast on January 27th this year.

Faced with treacherous sea conditions and 5 metre high waves crashing on rocks close to the stranded runners, the lifeboat approached the cove cautiously. However before a rescue attempt could be made, the situation took an unexpected turn as the two men jumped off the rocks into a nearby gully where they instantly became out of their depth in the high swells.

Already cold and weak from their ordeal and with lacerations to their legs, the two runners were now in severe peril and the lifeboat crew were forced to enter the water to retrieve the men.

While Helmsman Mark Morris steadied the boat crew member Aaron Trebilcock fought his way through the surging sea, carrying each victim in turn back to the safety of the lifeboat.

Founded in 1839 the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners’ Royal Benevolent Society’s main aim is to provide financial help to merchant seafarers, fishermen and their dependants who are in need. Grants are provided to ex-seafarers or their widows, either on a regular basis or as one-off payment to meet particular needs.

 

Charity Fundraiser Recognised at Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society’s Annual Skill and Gallantry Awards Ceremony

Maritime heroes, who have risked their lives in dangerous sea rescues, have been honoured at the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society’s annual Skill and Gallantry Awards ceremony.

Ex-First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Jonathon Band GCB ADC, who as friend to the Society presented awards to the helicopter and lifeboat crews from three sea rescues and to one woman for her outstanding service to the Society, at Fishmongers’ Hall, London Bridge, on Tuesday 5th October.

The Society, which celebrated its 171st anniversary in this, the Year of the Seafarer, supports ex-merchant seafarers and fishermen in times of financial hardship.

The crew of “Rescue 193” from RNAS Culdrose were awarded The Edward & Maisie Lewis Award for their ‘professionalism, teamwork, determination and courage’ in saving the lives of four trawlermen.

On 31 December 2009, they received a MayDay call from a fishing vessel on fire 50 miles south of the Isles of Scilly. Having lost all power due to fire damage and being unable to inflate their life raft, the boat’s crew were perched perilously on the last 3ft of stern in stormy conditions.

Despite the significant risk to their own safety, the crew of “Rescue 193” hovered close to the vessel and winched RNAS Petty Officer Aircrewman Lacy down to the pitching and rolling deck. However as the boat wallowed violently in the rough seas, he was plunged into the icy waters of the Atlantic. After being recovered back to the helicopter and despite his ordeal he elected to go back down for a second rescue attempt.

This time he was successful and all four men were winched safely off the fire-damaged trawler. Petty Officer Lacy was given an individual commendation for his bravery.

The Emile Robin Award was presented to Inshore Lifeboat Helmsman Mark Morris with individual commendation to Crew member Aaron Trebilcock, RNLI Newquay, for their ‘good judgement, courage and determination’ in rescuing two runners trapped by the tide near Fern Cove on the Newquay coast on New Year’s Eve last year.

Faced with treacherous sea conditions and 3 metre surf the lifeboat approached the rock strewn entrance to the cove cautiously. However before a rescue attempt could be made, the situation took an unexpected turn as the two men jumped off the rocks into a nearby gully where they instantly became out of their depth in the high swells.

Already cold and weak from their ordeal and with lacerations to their legs, the two runners were now in severe peril and the lifeboat crew were forced to enter the raging water themselves to retrieve the men.

While Helmsman Morris steadied the boat, crew member Trebilcock fought his way through the surging sea, carrying each victim in turn back to the safety of the lifeboat.

The Lady Swaythling Trophy was awarded to Lifeboat Coxswain Gary Fairbairn, RNLI Dunbar for ‘outstanding seamanship and teamwork’ in rescuing a sailor and his wife whose incapacitated yacht was being tossed around in rough seas north east of Dunbar in May last year.

Speeding across the treacherous seas towards the yacht, the lifeboat itself was damaged and almost capsized when it fell 10 metres from the top of a large wave. When the crew located the yacht – a difficult task in the high seas – the lifeboat managed to get alongside, narrowly avoiding a collision, and drag the man and his wife aboard to safety. The yacht was abandoned, since the conditions were too dangerous to tow it back to shore.

The final award was presented to the Society’s longest serving honorary agent and fundraiser Betty McLean. The 72-year-old lady from Peterhead has been working on behalf of the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society since 1953, and has raised more than £100,000 for seafarers in need, £50,000 of that in the last ten years alone. She is also the charity’s only specialist corporate fundraiser. She was awarded The Lord Lewin Award for her outstanding contribution to the society for the second time.

Founded in 1839 the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners’ Royal Benevolent Society’s main aim is to provide financial help to merchant seafarers, fishermen and their dependants who are in need. Support is provided to ex- seafarers or their widows, either as regular grants or as one off payments to meet particular needs.

 

September 2010

Charity Promotes Aid for Retired Seafarers in Southampton Suffering Financial Misery

A charity volunteer, who has dedicated his life to supporting seafarers in need, is urging retired mariners in Southampton who may be suffering from the current financial crisis to come forward for support.

Reverend Andrew Huckett, 60, is a volunteer for the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society which offers financial assistance to retired and incapacitated mariners and their widows, many of whom are surviving on meagre incomes.

Although there are 24 beneficiaries in the area already receiving around £6000 in financial support from the Society, Reverend Huckett believes there are many more who are suffering financial hardship and do not realise help is available.

“Southampton has a large retired seafaring community, many of whom are surviving on very small pensions. The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society helps to improve these individuals’ quality of life by providing regular financial grants or specific items which are needed in a crisis, such as replacement washing machines or fridge freezers. However many people are completely unaware that this kind of support is available and so suffering unnecessarily,” he said.

Reverend Huckett, from Bassett in Southampton, has worked as an honorary agent for the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society for over 20 years in addition to holding down a full time job as a chaplain for the Mission to Seafarers. He takes great pride in his work for the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society and insists on delivering the cheques to beneficiaries and widows of former seafarers personally.

“I enjoy meeting former seafarers and responding to their needs. Many of these people have worked in the industry all their lives and deserve to be comfortable in their retirement. The number of beneficiaries in Southampton is relatively few compared to the size of the retired seafaring community and therefore I’ve no doubt there are many more people out there who could receive our support.”

As well as providing household items, the Shipwrecked Mariners Society can also help towards the cost of equipment required due to a medical condition, such as mobility scooters or stairlifts, adjustable beds or riser/recliner chairs and help with priority debts and household repairs.

Chief Executive of the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, Commodore Malcolm Williams CBE RN, said that it is often these household items which make a huge difference to individuals’ quality of life.

“Many retired seafarers and their widows cannot afford to replace basic household items like fridges and cookers or mobility aids that would make their lives easier because they are on low fixed incomes and have no savings. However we can provide assistance with these things and encourage all retired members of the maritime community to come forward to find out if they qualify for support.”

“Last year the society received 744 new applications for assistance – the highest for 5 years – demonstrating that the need for support in the seafaring and ex-seafaring community remains high. However the number of beneficiaries claiming support in Southampton remains low, despite the fact that the area has a large retired seafaring community. With the help of honorary agents like the Reverend Huckett we hope to address this and reach out to every member of the retired maritime community who is in need of support.”

 

August 2010

Stuck for something to do this summer? Looking for an adventure for all the family without breaking the bank?

The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, one of the UK’s oldest maritime charities is calling on families to take a CHALLENGE and go walk about, at the same time as raising money for a good cause.

To help families enjoy their summer holidays, The Society is setting a CHALLENGE that guarantees outdoor fun at no additional cost. An adventure for all the ages, the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society wants families to learn about the crucial role seafarers play in our day to day lives, whilst having fun together. With 2010 being the ‘Year of the Seafarer,’ families may even wish to dress up in maritime costumes for the CHALLENGE!

The CHALLENGE in Weymouth involves locating and visiting the Society’s ex-WW11 collecting box mines in Weymouth which were donated by the Admiralty in recognition of the support the Charity gave to seafarers during the war years. The CHALLENGE is suitable for all ages and varying fitness levels, providing bank holiday fun at the same time as raising money for a good cause.

“With the summer holiday underway and the August bank holiday just around the corner, the Weymouth CHALLENGE is an ideal fun day out for the family,” said Chief Executive of the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, Commodore Malcolm Williams, CBE RN.

“As an island nation, we are extremely reliant on our seafarers and in recognition of 2010 being the ‘Year of the Seafarer’ we hope the families show appreciation to one of the industries that has contributed so much to Weymouth.”

Easy to participate, the walk route, designed to provide outdoor fun, is approximately three miles long. The route is a walk around Weymouth, using the Weymouth Town walk, visiting the first mine located on the Esplanade. For those wanting an extra activity there is a second mine located in the Sea Life Centre, located in Lodmoor Country Park, providing a great day out.

The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society was founded in 1839 and exists to provide relief to the seafaring, and ex-seafaring community. As well as helping in the event of a shipwreck – and they do still happen – its main function today is offering financial support to retired or elderly seafarers and widows who have fallen on hard times. Last year, the Society made grant payments totalling over £1.6 million to beneficiaries in one off or regular grants.
Taking part in the CHALLENGE is free and easy to enter!

Weymouth Town Walk

The walk takes approximately 2 hours, although it can take longer with time spent at the attractions along the way. Learn about Weymouth’s fascinating history as you walk.

  • From the Tourist Information Centre when facing out to sea, turn right and follow the Esplanade towards the Pavilion Theatre, the building at the end of the Esplanade with the green roof.
  • From the Pavilion, follow the harbour along Custom House Quay.
  • As you continue to walk along the harbour it was hereabouts that a trading vessel berthed in 1348, which brought the Black Death to England. You are now standing on the old quay, which met the water at the deep step above the present roadway.
  • As you reach the Town Bridge climb the steps to your right and cross over the bridge.
  • Once across the bridge turn left and continue along Trinity Road where the elegant bow-fronted houses date from the late 18th to early 19th centuries Continue along the Harbourside to the town pump, re-erected here and once an essential part of town life.
  • From the Town pump continue along the terrace cottages of Cove Row. On to Hope Street which was once on the water’s edge of the “ope” or cove which ran back into what is now Hope Square.
  • Continue along the Harbourside past Nothe Parade. Continue along the path passing the Lifeboat Station and shop.
  • From the Harbourside take one of a number of flights of steps up towards Nothe Fort.
  • With the fort in front of you turn to your right and follow the path through along Elizabethan Way through the gardens and along Jubilee Walk.
  • At some steps turn right up the steps and follow the road to the corner.
  • Continue down Horsford Street. At the bottom of the hill turn right into Hope Square.
  • On leaving Hope Square bear to your left up the steep hill, at the top turn right into Herbert Place, then turn right in to Hartlebury Terrace. From here follow the path to left into Trinity Terrace.
  • At the end of Trinity Terrace there are good views over Weymouth Marina and towards the Ridgeway in the distance. Turn right here and walk down the steps behind the church to the bottom.
  • Trinity Church is now in front of you. At the bottom of the steps you will see you are back at the Town Bridge.
  • From the Town Bridge cross over past the job centre and turn left into Lower St Edmond Street. Continue to the end of the street then cross the road and turn right joining the new Harbourside Walkway.
  • On reaching the bridge turn to your right and cross Commercial road and follow Westham Road back to the seafront and the Tourist Information Centre.

 

July 2010

79-year-old Philip Woodford is honoured with an invitation to Buckingham Palace for his 50-year commitment to the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society

Welding, fire-fighting and community campaigning may not be obvious duties for a charity fundraiser, but for 79-year-old Philip Woodford they have featured in half a century of volunteering for the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society – one of the countries oldest seafaring charities.

Now Philip, from the Isle of Wight, has been recognised at the Princess Royal’s 60th birthday garden party for his commitment to two old war mines, converted into collecting boxes, which together have raised over £50,000 to support former merchant seaman and fishermen who have fallen on hard times.

Under Philip’s care, the two mines at Sandown and Shanklin have become the charity’s best performing collection sites across the country, raising much needed funds for the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society which supports retired and incapacitated seafarers in need.

Not only does Philip work around the clock in all weather conditions to keep the mines in pristine condition, he’s also fought a fire in the Sandown mine and led a two year campaign against its relocation.

Philip, a former Royal Air Force conscript in 1949, has always had a love of the sea which has driven his continued support for the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society.

“I’ve always lived by the sea and grew up in Sandown. I spent 33 years volunteering for the Coastguard Auxiliary Service, carrying out cliff rescues, in addition to my work with the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society.”

Commenting on his visit to the palace, Philip said: “It was pretty good. We have actually been to Buckingham Palace before, but last time we had to pay! My wife has always wanted to go there and she was 80 last year so we went on one of those tours. Of course this time we got in for free, which was very exciting.”

As well as maintaining the mines, Philip’s responsibilities include collecting and cleaning the money which often throws up surprises.

“I find all sorts in the donation boxes. Lolly sticks, sweets, bottle tops, even foreign money. The money is often very sticky as kids pour fizzy drinks over it so it all has to be washed in colanders in the kitchen sink and then my wife Daphne dries it with her hairdryer. It’s quite a big job and takes a full day,” he said.

In addition to collecting the money, Philip visits the mine regularly to carry out minor repair jobs such as welding, scraping away rust and cleaning the mine before giving it a fresh coat of paint and polishing the brass.

“I can remember my very first day on the job, I noticed smoke coming out of the hole in one of the mines – someone had put a cigarette in the box and it had set fire to the cloth bag on the inside which holds the money. It was smoking so much everyone thought it was going to blow up!”

Philip’s dedication to the mines on the Isle of Wight has continued along the same vein ever since. When the council relocated the Sandown mine to a much quieter location away from the main road footpath to a position between the Southern Water Pump Station and public toilets, Philip launched a two year campaign urging the council to reconsider their decision.

After writing many letters to the council and with the support of the town centre manager and beach manager the council agreed to return the mine close to its original location.

“We really suffered when the mine was moved and donations dropped by 50 percent. It was tucked away where it didn’t get as much passing trade. It took a serious amount of effort to persuade the council to move it back again, but we did it in the end,” he said.

Now in his later years, Philip still sails regularly with the Bembridge Sailing Club, sailing an Illusion yacht all through the Winter from October 1st until April 30th.

The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society presented Philip with an engraved barometer to commemorate his 50 years service to the Society at the newly refurbished collecting mine on Sandown Seafront last week.

Chief Executive of the Shipwrecked Mariners, Commodore Malcolm Williams CBE RN, who presented Philip with the award, said: “Philip is one of our longest serving and most dedicated honorary agents. It’s wonderful to see the pride he takes in maintaining the two mines at Shanklin and Sandown, which are, consequently, two of the best performing mines in the country. Last year the society received 744 new applications for assistance – the highest for 5 years – demonstrating the need for support for the seafaring and ex-seafaring community remains high. This means the hard work and dedication by honorary agents such as Philip is invaluable.”

 

June 2010

The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society helps former fishermen suffering financial hardship

A marine enthusiast is fighting to keep Fisherrow’s rich fishing heritage alive and support those who have devoted their lives to the industry.

Simon Fairnie, 71, works as an honorary agent for The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society which supports retired or incapacitated seafarers and their dependents. He facilitates the distribution of grants to retired seafarers and their widows who live in Fisherrow, Musselburgh and in the nearby Port Seton.

Although previously a busy fishing village with more than 200 active fishermen, the industry has now depleted leaving a community of retired mariners and their widows, some of whom find themselves alone and living on a meagre income.

Mr Fairnie acts as the ‘eyes and ears’ for the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, regularly visiting retired fishermen and their widows to ensure that they receive the necessary support, both financially and personally.

“I am the son of a fishing family whose ancestry has been traced back to the 1700’s and all my family were fishermen and fishwives. Before I was an Agent I knew how much my father appreciated being the recipient of a Grant from the Shipwrecked Mariner’s Society and how much it meant to him to have that little bit of extra money which is why I am pleased to support the Society’s work.”

The society also ensures former mariners are claiming the state benefits they are entitled to and, if they are not, advise them how to make a successful claim.

Mr Fairnie said the society’s work makes an enormous difference to the retired fishing community in Fisherrow, Port Seton and many other ports up and down the country.

“All the Grant recipients benefit in some way. Last year the Society gave a ‘one-off’ Grant to a local fisherman’s widow which she used to replace her broken fridge/freezer and this year she has received a Grant payment in May. That lady lives in circumstances where the money is an added bonus to her and her family who more or less live on benefits and have no savings to draw upon. This is where the Society excels”, he said.

“The Grants are distributed in May and November and that requires a visit to each recipient where we generally discuss their personal situation and I observe how they are coping and report to the Society any needs” he added.

As a boy Mr Fairnie helped out on the family fishing boat and still has a long-standing love of the sea. When he was 14yrs old and fishing for Herring on the Isle of Man with his father he met his wife Margaret and the pair are soon to celebrate 47 years of marriage.

Since retiring from his career in science and marine biology, Mr Fairnie’s interest in Fisherrow’s maritime history has grown and he is currently helping to establish a permanent fishing museum in the town.

“Now I have more time I undertake research on Fisherrow and its past and have amassed a large collection of relevant photos and memorabilia. I also give illustrated talks on Fisherrow and its fishing people to History Societies, Rotaries and other groups.”

 

May 2010

Nautical charity highlights the plight of financially stricken mariners on wartime anniversary

The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society is marking the 70th anniversary of The Dunkirk evacuation by highlighting the problems many seafarers and ex-seafarers face and encouraging those in need of help to make contact.

Between 26th May and 4th June 1940 ‘Operation Dynamo’ saw nearly 140,000 Allied troops rescued from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk. Crucially, many were taken back to England by the ‘little ships of Dunkirk”, a 700-strong flotilla of commercial vessels – merchant ships, trawlers, pleasure craft and lifeboats.

Founded in 1839, the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society provides relief to the seafaring and ex-seafaring community. Its work is as relevant as ever in today’s rigorous economic climate, with a quarter of retired mariners suffering financial hardship – higher than the national average of 17 per cent.

Chief Executive of the Shipwrecked Mariners, Commodore Malcolm Williams CBE RN, said: “With 2010 being both the International Year of the Seafarer and the 70th anniversary of Dunkirk, it is fitting to consider this vulnerable group – and the debt we continue to owe them as an island nation – and to ensure they have the standard of living they deserve.

“We are also anxious to raise awareness of our work among potential beneficiaries. Last year we saw a 10% increase in the number of applications for assistance – not surprising in the current financial climate – however social isolation and proud self-reliance means mariners may often be unaware of the services offered by the Society, or reluctant to seek support”.

Eleven per cent of elderly seafarers suffer from social isolation, most common among the single and poor, compared to seven per cent of all older people in the UK. An estimated 40 per cent of all working and former seagoers also suffer limiting long-term illness or disability.

The Commodore added: “We offer financial help to retired or incapacitated mariners and their dependants and specialise in providing specific items needed urgently or in a crisis. These might include roofing or window repairs, or perhaps equipment to help a medical condition, such as a mobility scooter, stair lift or adjustable bed – or necessities such as a cooker or clothes. We aim to help older people remain in their own homes where we can.
“Often, emotional support and human contact is as important as economic aid and with so many seafarers out there in desperate need of support, we are actively urging them to make contact.”

 

Maritime Charity Calls On Plymouth Sailors To Support Its Work

The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society is calling on all Plymouth sailors to support its work on behalf of ex-merchant seafarers, fishermen and their dependants who are facing hardship and distress, by taking part in the Eddystone Charity Sailing Pursuit.

Open to yachtsmen in the South West, the 26 mile sailing marathon around the Hand Deeps Buoy, west of Eddystone, gives participants the chance to test their sailing skills whilst raising money for a worthy cause such as the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society.

The charity, which celebrated its 170th anniversary last year, offers financial support to retired and incapacitated seafarers in addition to offering general advice and guidance, which enables those from the seafaring community to claim the state benefits they’re entitled to.

In the last 12 months 2,327 former seafarers across the country benefited from the Society’s support, including 77 in the South West. Last year the Charity distributed grants totalling over £1.6 million. They also helped beneficiaries access £31,000 in Government benefits.

The organisation received 744 new applications for assistance last year – the highest since 2005 – showing that help for this vulnerable community is much in demand, particularly in the current harsh economic environment.

Chief Executive of the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, Commodore Malcolm Williams CBE RN, said the Eddystone Charity Sailing Pursuit provides an exciting challenge for local sailors and a great opportunity to support fellow seafarers and their families.

“Our work involves supporting retired and incapacitated seafarers who have devoted their lives to the sea. Unfortunately they often retire on meagre incomes and rely on financial help from us to make their later years just a little more comfortable. An event such as the Eddystone Charity Sailing Pursuit is a chance for sailors to give something back to others from within the seafaring community.”

Now in its 9th Year, the event refers to itself as a ‘chase’ rather than a race, with yachts starting at intervals based broadly on their Portsmouth Yardstick.

More than £170,000 has been raised for numerous charities through the event, which is supervised by Plymouth’s historic Royal Western Yacht Club.
Entrants must raise a minimum of £50 sponsorship to take part.

 

March 2010

Maritime charity supporter casts her net closer to home to raise nearly £1,000!

There’s no stopping Maghull’s Catherine Johnson from helping seafarers in hardship and distress, having raised nearly £1,000 ahead of running the Liverpool half-marathon on 28 March.

Staying true to her love of the sea and her Merseyside seafaring roots, this is the second half-marathon she will have completed in support of the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners’ Royal Benevolent Society. Last year the Society presented her with an Exceptional Fundraising Award for generating £900 in sponsorship raised by running the Reading half-marathon.

Catherine’s family has a long history of working at sea so has seen first-hand how vital the support of the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society is. Catherine, whose father Douglass Johnson is a retired member of the Merchant Navy, has already well exceeded her original fundraising target with the help of her sponsors and wants to raise even more.

On running the half-marathon, Catherine, an assistant director with the NHS, said: “What the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society does is fantastic and being able to be part of that is wonderful. Long-distance events are still a big challenge for me as it’s only my second half-marathon – hence most of my time is being spent in training!

“Although I now live and work in landlocked Buckinghamshire I still feel a great affinity for the sea and return to Maghull often. I’m glad I will be able to spread the word about the good work the charity does.”

Represented locally by honorary agent John Wilson at the Liverpool Seafarers Centre, the Society helps 220 seafarers and their dependants in Merseyside alone. Campaigns such as Catherine’s provide much-needed funds to enable the Society to continue to provide help where it’s most needed.

Chief Executive of the Shipwrecked Mariners, Commodore Malcolm Williams CBE RN said: “We are thrilled Catherine has chosen to support the Shipwrecked Mariners again and are very grateful for all money we receive. Catherine is raising money through the Just Giving website meaning we benefit from the additional tax re-claimed on all donations, resulting in more money to help the people who really need it.”

Having celebrated its 170th anniversary last year, the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society aims to provide relief to the seafaring, and ex seafaring, community. The work of charities like this is more important than ever as 2010 is the Year of the Seafarer, a time for raising awareness of this vulnerable society group and bolstering future years of support.

As well as helping in the event of a shipwreck, the Society’s main function these days is to offer financial support to retired or incapacitated seafarers and their dependants who are suffering hardship and distress. Last year, the Society made grant payments totalling over £1.7 million to beneficiaries in one-off or regular grants.

Catherine’s seafaring roots go back to her grandfather John Johnson Senior who spent the majority of his life aboard the SS Moliere, and then became Chargehand Engineer for A&R Brown (Ship repairers) Dock Road in Liverpool. Both her father Douglas and uncle John also sailed from the docks in Liverpool and spent many years working on ships for the New Zealand Shipping Company as electricians, both having started work as apprentices for their father’s company A&R Brown.

If you would like to help Catherine raise money for the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, sponsor her at http://www.justgiving.com/catherinejohnsonSFMS. Alternatively, money can be donated via this website or send a cheque to Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, 1 North Pallant, Chichester PO19 1TL.

For more information on the Liverpool Seafarers Centre, phone 0300 800 8080 or email admin@liverpoolseafarerscentre.org.

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