Message from the Chairman
Vice Admiral Peter Wilkinson CB CVO BA
What a wonderful year to be Chairman of a truly national charity, not just the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee, but also the commemorations of the 30th anniversary of the South Atlantic conflict at the Memorial Chapel at Pangbourne and in the Guildhall in Plymouth – and a moving Drumhead service on The Hoe on Armed Forces Day in the presence of the Earl of Wessex and the Prime Minister. I hope that you also share a feeling that Seafarers’ Awareness Week is on the very brink of achieving a sense of momentum that will raise its profile dramatically in 2013. There will also be more opportunities for reflection with commemorative events planned for Liverpool in May, to acknowledge that great seafaring city’s contribution to the hard fought and hard won Battle of the Atlantic 70 years ago.
And from one important seafaring city to another, and to Southampton’s magnificent new museum. With an opening coinciding with the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic it is touching to realise that in one room the floor is a map of the city, each dot on it representing a household affected by the tragedy – over 500 in all – and five years before King George’s Fund for Sailors was founded. As seafarers we are all aware of tragedy and do our best to avoid it, but for those who are involved, who are left bereaved, or who are injured and unable to work, the need for support is definitely there and I am very grateful to you all for your help, whether it is fundraising, donating generously, being prepared to leave a legacy or just trying to put across the seafaring message in our island nation still afflicted by sea blindness. The trustees and executive work closely
together to ensure that Seafarers UK remains in good shape to maximise the support we give to our beneficiaries. We are actively encouraging a new generation of merchant navy supporters, private trusts and corporate donors. To do so effectively, we need to present ourselves as a charity that is using its financial reserves to best advantage, not just sitting on its money in the bank. We also have to make an educated guess at how the numbers of beneficiaries may reduce in the future, balanced against ever increasing costs of care. Campaigning, fundraising, above all focusing on need – your charity has lots to do in these austere times. I am sure that as we begin to look to our own centenary, I express the thanks of us all to the Director General and his staff, who work so hard to ensure that Seafarers UK will remain the leading charity for the whole of the UK’s maritime community.
Introduction from the Director General
Commodore Barry Bryant CVO RN
Last year I welcomed you to a somewhat slimmer Annual Report than of late, and this year, in tune with the nation’s on-going austerity, we’re planning to lose even more weight not least by squeezing me onto the same page as the chairman. Nonetheless, this Report contains the vital and largely statutory information that we provide to convince everyone from the Charity Commission to our loyal supporters that we run a tight ship. We make money wherever we can and we continue to strive for ongoing efficiencies, ensuring that we live up to the charitable objects enshrined in our Royal Charter as effectively as possible.
from financial reserves to maintain our grants total at £2.5m, and we believe that we should continue this strategy while so many seafarers remain in need. In the first full year of operation, our new finance software proved its worth by allowing us to get a much more detailed overview on every aspect of collection and spending. This has guided more objective management decisions, as well as revealing the true charitable cost of our several wider activities focused on varied educational issues and maritime campaigning. We continue to believe that our unique cross-sector role gives us both the opportunity and the duty to provide coordination and guidance in undertakings which would be beyond the remit of single-issue organisations.
Given the harsh times in which we live, I believe 2012 can be regarded as a satisfactory year in many respects. We stuck to our promise of drawing down
In pursuit of this mission, we have expanded our maritime awareness campaign and will continue to do so in 2013, when we expect to be joined by the Sea
Cadets, naval associations, port welfare committees and other groups in a truly nationwide Seafarers Awareness Week. Similarly we have extended our liaison with several international organisations such as the International Maritime Organisation, the ITF Seafarers Trust and the new International Seafarers Welfare Assistance Network, for if we are to be perceived as the UK representative of a global maritime welfare network, we need to understand exactly what that responsibility entails, even though our actual beneficiary base is confined to the UK and Commonwealth. Finally, in our 95th year but in the face of constantly changing welfare requirements – think RN redundancies, the introduction of a seafarers’ Bill of Rights (MLC2006), and the reduction in State benefits – we are determined to provide the steadfast leadership envisaged by our Founding Fathers. The task remains constant. 2012 ANNUAL REPORT & REVIEW