Two hundred years ago, an important meeting was held – in a tavern in the City of London.
A great task lay before them, they had to create an organisation, to raise funds, to train workers.
But their plans were well laid, and today the Society which they founded has spread throughout the seaports of the world.
It has become a national institution, charged with international work.
A bicentenary is undoubtedly a special occasion, and from those humble beginnings in a pub, the current Sailors’ Society has become one of the leaders in the arena of global seafarer welfare.
To mark the event the charity is planning to celebrate in a variety of ways.
Front and centre in these celebrations will be the anniversary service at Southwark Cathedral on Tuesday 24 April, supported by, among others, Prince Michael of Kent, who has a long-standing association with the Society.
The charity’s port chaplains from around the world will join together at the special service.
To showcase the history of the last 200 years an innovative interactive timeline has been produced to highlight some of the key events in the shipping industry and the charity.
It’s well worth a look and you can view the timeline by clicking here.
Keeping to more traditional lines, a book has also been produced with 200 stories to illustrate and retell in more detail some of the fascinating stories of two centuries of working with seafarers.
All proceeds from the book will support the charity’s work.
Aside from the celebrations, and very neatly tying in two of the previous topics covered in this blog, it was wonderful to recently hear about Calista Chan, a Sailors’ Society sponsored cadet from Singapore meeting with Steve Loader, the Society’s Avonmouth-based chaplain here in the UK.
If you missed the story, click here to read it.
It is a great example of Sailors’ Society’s truly global reach.
My own commitment to the Society to raise funds alongside the 2018 anniversary continues and I’m pleased to report better progress in February!
At the start of February I snuck in the London Winter Run, my third in a row, an annual 10k that takes in the sights from Trafalgar Square, through the City of London and past St Paul’s Cathedral, before finishing by Downing Street.
As an ex-merchant seafarer, the finishers' picture alongside the cenotaph with the Red Ensign in the background was particularly meaningful for me.
Some extra focus on my capabilities has also ensured I’m not pushing myself beyond my boundaries and I now have a good routine of mid-week shorter runs and strength training followed by a longer weekend endurance run.
March included the Chiswick half-marathon, a flat run up and down the River Thames and then a of a build-up of distance culminating in a 20-mile run at Eton Dorney lake, one of the classic pre-London Marathon trials before ‘tapering’ in the lead up to the main event.
This was a tough lesson in marathon preparation, it turns out training never stops, even when it’s minus one, blowing fifteen mph and snowing. If that’s not commitment then I’m not sure what is!
Fundraising is going extremely well, with some amazingly generous folk digging deep.
If you are able to support me, then please do check out my Just Giving page here, or alternatively you can contact Sailors’ Society directly through their own webpage.
Thank you to everyone that has donated so far, you can be assured that every penny goes to supporting seafarers around the world in so many different ways.
The life of a seafarer can be tough, months away from home, frequently with little or no contact with loved ones and enduring rough seas and touch conditions.
Your support can help relieve their stress, improve their immediate welfare and in the longer term make significant changes to benefit all of them.
Jon Holloway is Managing Director at L&R Midland (UK) Ltd. He was an Engineer Cadet with BP Shipping, sailing with BP up to the rank of Chief Engineer. Jon came ashore in 2001 and has worked in various shipping roles for BP Shipping, INTERTANKO and BG Group before taking on his current position. He has been an Ambassador for Sailors’ Society since 2007 and became a Trustee of the Society in 2014. He is fundraising on behalf of Sailors’ Society.