If only we could bottle the passion of the UK’s leading maritime charities; we could cure a lot of the world’s ills. I would begin with ‘sea blindness’, a topic covered at Seafarers UK’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in June, one of two major maritime charity events I have been privileged to attend in recent weeks, the other being The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society’s AGM in May.
‘Sea blindness’, an issue also touched upon by my colleague Ellie St George-Yorke in her recent article on the Boaty McBoatface debate, refers to ignorance of our island nation’s continuing dependence on the sea for food, commerce and security, and the vital role our seafarers play in all our lives, whether they work in the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Merchant Navy or fishing fleets.
Today there are organisations and charities doing tireless work to support former seafarers and their dependants, and to promote education, training and careers to attract the best talent and ensure our seafaring community continues to thrive now and in the future.
Seafarers UK, for example, is focusing its fundraising appeal for its centenary year of 2017 on ‘Supporting Seafarers: Past, Present and Future’, with three key campaigns. The Royal Alfred, meanwhile, provides tailor-made care and support to former seafarers and their dependants at its residential home in Surrey. This charity is now in its 151st year, which reflects the enduring need for its services. Indeed, an ageing population means the number of former Merchant Navy seafarers and fishermen over the age of 85 is expected to increase by more than 275% between now and 2030!
Awareness of the role of the seafarer and the sea continues to improve but there is always work to be done. The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society runs a campaign every year that does a fantastic job of celebrating our country’s connection with the sea – its annual photography competition invites people to send in their ‘ultimate sea view’, whether images of ships, harbours, ports, wrecks, seafarers or seascapes.
After working with maritime charities as part of my role at Acceleris for many years, I share their passion for the work they do. I took the following message away with me from both AGMs – we must never lose sight of the nation’s dependence on or our responsibility to the maritime community.
Sea blindness is certainly not an issue at Acceleris, which has a specialist maritime communications team working with a diverse range of clients within the sector. To find out more, please visit the Acceleris website.