As Invergordon winds down from its busiest cruise season yet, Drew Anderson, a port chaplain for international maritime charity Sailors’ Society, is calling for volunteers to offer support to visiting seafarers.
Drew has been a familiar face in the port of Invergordon, Scotland’s busiest cruise liner port, since he joined Sailors’ Society as a volunteer in 2006 then as a port chaplain from 2014. Hundreds of visiting seafarers benefit from Drew’s help each year, ranging from providing wi-fi and giving them lifts to town when they arrive in port, to offering counselling in times of crisis.
This season, Drew and his team have visited 168 ships and given out 2,400 hats to seafarers unprepared for colder climes.
Drew said: “It is a thoroughly rewarding role. We treat visiting seafarers like a friend and it is greatly appreciated. We have emails and letters from around the world thanking us for our work. “
To the world’s 1.6 million seafarers, who can spend up to a year away from home, Drew and his team of volunteer ship visitors represent a friendly face in a faraway port. Drew also manages Invergordon Seafarers’ Centre, which so far this year has welcomed more than 5,400 seafarers through its doors.
According to the Port of Cromarty Firth (PoCF), Invergordon saw a 45 per cent increase in visiting passengers during this year’s cruise season.
“This year around 50,000 seafarers have visited the port, so it is a big factor in the community and numbers are likely to rise again next year.
“Seafarers are away for nine to 12 months at a time so it can be a lonely existence. We provide them with news from home, a friendly face and welfare support. The centre offers them time to socialise and relax, and access to WiFi to make that all important call back home.”
Drew and his team have received a great deal of local support from individuals, organisations and churches, for which they are very grateful.
“Whether it has been volunteering at the Seafarers’ Centre or knitting a woolly hat for a seafarer, the local community has been terrific, and we’re looking for even more volunteers to join our great team,” he said.
If you would like to find out more about Drew’s work or are interested in volunteering, you can get in touch by emailing [email protected].