Along with an estimated 22,000 others from across the maritime industry, I have spent this week recovering, catching up from and reflecting on another great Posidonia.
My one sentence review would be…Hot, hectic, challenging, busy, with some fun thrown in for good measure.
I set off to Athens on the Monday full of hope and anticipation, having spent a good few weeks planning our attendance, scheduling events and meetings and scouring the exhibitor list to create a hit list of organisations to speak to.
Finding our hotel, which was in a less than salubrious area of central Athens, was the first challenge.
Eventually we arrived, only to be told we were in the “other building” across the road.
It turned out that this building had only just opened that day to be ready for Posidonia, which was evidenced by trailing wires and an air of chaos.
We were delighted to join Lloyd’s Register on their superbly-positioned stand each morning, where we served our BySea coffee and talked to visitors about our work.
We had partnered with Lloyd’s Register to drive visitors to their stand and register on their digital desk. In return they made a donation to Sailors’ Society for every registration and we’re really grateful for their support.
My personal highlight of the week was being transported from the Tsakos Group’s garden party to the British Embassy for a drinks reception in the private car of Efthymios Mitropoulos, former Secretary General of the IMO, Head of the Tsakos Foundation and all-round gentleman, with the man himself.
It’s the closest thing I have to a claim to fame.
Around lunchtime on Tuesday, with the exhibition, TradeWinds conference and various other seminars and press conferences in full flow, the entire Athens Metropolitan Expo was plunged into darkness – lights, mics and air conditioning all ground to a halt.
Rumour has it that, while Julian Bray, Editor-in-Chief of TradeWinds, did a sterling job in keeping his panel discussion going amid trying circumstances, Theo Vokos, Director of Posidonia, was seen casually strolling through the expo to sort out the situation – not looking like a man whose raison d’etre was in chaos.
My colleague, Rebecca Bridgen, and I spent the week talking to many people about the work of Sailors’ Society and recruiting people to take part in our next challenge event – the Loch Ness Challenge.
We also had some very useful meetings, which have enabled us to progress some important industry partnerships.
It was wonderful to see so many of our established partners and supporters, which is so important in maintaining relationships. I hasten to add we were not part of the ‘six parties a night’ set who are rumoured to have kept going to 4am each morning.
While showing your face is so valuable, I’m well aware that I need to put my best face forward – for me I don’t think this exists beyond midnight.
We were also faced with some challenging conversations with people who didn’t know our organisation so well.
One comment that sticks in my mind was: “Why do you need a charity for seafarers? They get paid, don’t they?”
It’s a reminder that we have much to do in raising awareness of the plight of seafarers who face loneliness, isolation, piracy, abandonment and many other issues at sea.
Happily, we managed to talk that particular individual around, so much so that this week he has signed up to support us in the Loch Ness Challenge!
Overall, it was a brilliant week and we are now in the middle of following up on all the possibilities and partnerships that were established.
After all the drama and hecticness of Posidonia, the hard work starts now.
A big thank you to the following organisations for supporting us at Posidonia 2018: Lloyd's Register, Aspida, Inmarsat, UKP&I Club, ABS, Tsakos Foundation and Navarino.
Claire Heath is Sailors' Society's head of development.