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‘We are the inheritors of a proud legacy, bestowed on us by the ‘great and the good’ of the UK’s maritime sector. And in our generation, we bear the responsibility to continue this legacy with prescient investments of our own; bringing together our own networks and resources, in order to support individuals in need, and to support and advocate causes which are important to our whole industry.’ King George V at the helm of HMY Britannia Lord Mountevans, Lord Mayor of the City of London, speaking in 2015

FRONT COVER IMAGES: • Admiral The Rt Hon. The Lord West of Spithead GCB, DSC, PC, pictured with two sea cadets • A working fisherman at sea • Boys from the St Andrew's Home at the Hull Sailors' Orphanage (credit: Mary Evans/Peter Higginbotham Collection)

Copyright Protected Image © www.royalimages.co.uk




Chairman’s introduction As our Centenary year dawns, we feel it right to commemorate and celebrate one hundred years of service, dedication, vision and sheer hard work by individuals united by a love of the sea and its people. This publication forms part of an intensive but invigorating Centenary programme. It is not presented as a complete history, but rather draws from the charity’s extensive archive to highlight just a few of the people who have contributed to our proud story. Those who Seafarers UK has helped through its beneficiary organisations, the supporters and donors who have made that work possible and the people who have worked within the charity itself are all celebrated throughout these pages. For each individual featured, there are many more who, for reasons of space, have not been mentioned. They are not forgotten and our Centenary celebration acknowledges them all. The maritime profession is both challenging and rewarding. It requires skill and tenacity, but for those who are committed, it can offer significant professional and personal fulfilment. Seafarers past and present speak fondly of their experiences, especially the close camaraderie and team spirit that are unique to a seagoing vessel. While a career at sea is rewarding, it is sadly true that the perils and dangers of the ocean create one of the more hazardous working environments. The welfare issues faced by some seafarers and their families are not always dissimilar to those of wider society, but the effects are compounded by long absences from home, isolation and

limited public awareness of our complete reliance on those ‘who go down to the sea in ships’. Seafaring itself has rapidly evolved from the Dreadnought era of our foundation and so must we. As a charity we must continue to adapt in order to face the changing needs of the seafaring community, which, although its numbers may have fallen, continues to play a vital role in supporting our island nation’s needs.

Accommodation and supported housing • • • • • • •

Alabaré Christian Care Centres Care Ashore Lord Kitchener National Memorial Holiday Centre Queen Alexandra Hospital Home Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society Royal Naval Benevolent Trust Stoll Foundation

Advice and information services • Age Concern Acción Social y Assistencial, Spain • Cornwall Community Development • Human Rights at Sea • ISWAN – Seafarer Help • Merchant Navy Welfare Board • Not Forgotten Association • Poppyscotland • Seafarers Hospital Society • Veterans Outreach Support • Veterans Scotland

Children and youth welfare • BASIC • Marine Society and Sea Cadets • Royal Liverpool Seamen’s Orphans Institution • Sailors’ Children’s Society

Hardship and poverty grants

With our unique remit, Seafarers UK will continue to provide support and leadership to our maritime family as we embark on our next hundred years.

• COBSEO for SSAFA Casework Management System • Manx Marine Society • Nautilus Welfare Fund • Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League • Russian Arctic Convoy Museum • Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners’ Royal Benevolent Society

As you read, we hope you enjoy the story of our past, recognise the seafarers of the present, and join us in providing the same vital support for future generations to come.

Health and care services

Vice Admiral P.J. Wilkinson CB, CVO, BA, Chairman of Seafarers UK

• • • • •

Cobhair Bharraigh Erskine Hospital Grimsby Town FC Sports and Education Trust Islay and Jura Community Enterprises Queen Alexandra Hospital Home

Who we support In 2016, Seafarers UK awarded 92 grants amounting to just under £2,500,000 to 70 charities. These grants will in turn provide vital support to thousands of seafarers and their dependants, both at home and abroad.

Maritime education and training

Welfare support and services

• Ahoy Centre • Island Trust • London University RN Unit • Marine Society and Sea Cadets • National Coastwatch Institution • Regular Forces Employment Association • RMT Learning • Royal Navy & Royal Marines Children’s Fund • Seafish • Seafood Cornwall Training • seavision • Smallpeice Trust • UK Sailing Academy

• Age UK Wirral • Annual National Service for Seafarers • Apostleship of the Sea • Community Network • Fishermen’s Mission • Human Rights at Sea • ISWAN – Maritime Piracy Programme, South Asia • ISWAN – Maritime Piracy Study, Bangladesh • London Concert Choir • Maritime Charities Group • Maritime Skills Alliance • Maritime UK • Merchant Navy Welfare Board • Nautilus Welfare Fund • Plymouth Communities Befriending Consortium • Queen Victoria Seamen’s Rest • Revitalise Respite Holidays • South Atlantic Medal Association • Veterans Aid • Veterans Outreach Support

Port based welfare services • Apostleship of the Sea • Fishermen’s Mission • ISWAN – Nigeria • ISWAN – Port Welfare Partnership Programme • Merchant Navy Welfare Board • Mission to Seafarers • Mission to Seafarers, Southern Ontario, Canada • North American Maritime Ministry Association, Canada • Sailors’ Society • Stanley Seamen’s Centre

Individual regular welfare grants • • • •

Peterhead and District Fishermen’s Benevolent Fund Scottish Nautical Welfare Society Scottish Shipping Benevolent Association Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners’ Royal Benevolent Society

Please note: all information is correct as of November 2016. On occasion, organisations are awarded multiple grants by Seafarers UK. In these instances, the grants awarded support different projects, helping a range of beneficiaries. Each charity is categorised based on its primary service offering, however, many are able to provide a range of support to beneficiaries.




The early years 1917-1920 The formation of our charity happened at a time when Great Britain had come nearest to defeat in the First World War.

Public sympathy for those who were fighting and dying at sea, as well as for their dependants, was never higher. The casualties were a poignant reminder to the nation of its reliance for sheer survival upon British sea power and seaborne commerce. There was no shortage of organisations set up to help sailors, but this breadth of choice made it difficult for people to know where their hard-earned and well-intentioned money would be most effectively used. A central body was needed to direct funds to the most worthwhile organisations and ensure timely, appropriate assistance for seafarers in need and their loved ones.

For such a new organisation set up in wartime, the Fund had immediately made its mark, but had its work cut out to get fully established.

And so, on 5 July 1917, at its inaugural meeting at the Mansion House in London, King George’s Fund for Sailors was born. Its original aim was to ‘ensure adequate support for organisations that helped and comforted mariners in sickness and in distress; to make certain of timely aid to the widows and orphans they left behind’.

With so many worthy organisations in existence, and fierce rivalries between some, how could the Fund persuade these long-established institutions to cooperate with each other and that its way, as the new body responsible for channelling public charity fairly and effectively, was the right way? (Worryingly, there were also some unscrupulous organisations in operation whose work for seafarers was negligible and, in the worst cases, were claiming 95 per cent of their income as expenses!)

Before its official launch as King George’s Fund for Sailors in July, the Sailors’ Fund, as it was originally known, had seen immediate success with its first public campaign, supported by The Daily Telegraph. By the end of 1917 alone, £207,000 (over £6.2 million today) had been raised in subscriptions, with £55,000 paid in grants to 58 maritime charities.


More than 100,000 youngsters, aged 14 to 17, enlisted in the Royal Navy during the War of 1914-18, many of them leaving home for the first time

How would the Fund help to stamp these out and ensure not only that a well-meaning public was protected from corrupt practices, but that its money would go directly where it was needed - to help mariners in need and their dependants? So many questions, so many different issues. There was no time to waste.

EARLY 1917

The First World War has been underway since 1914. British ships are being sunk and thousands of lives have been lost at sea

Between October 1916 and January 1917, approximately 1.4 million tonnes of Allied shipping is lost to U-boats


March-April Following catastrophic losses at sea, the great and the good of the maritime community meet to discuss the establishment of a single Fund to secure and distribute aid efficiently to maritime charities

A tale of three houses


Where does our name come from?

Dixon House

THESE INCLUDED TO: • Secure more efficient aid for maritime charities across the UK, without interfering with existing subscriptions (funding arrangements) • Prevent wastage of subscriptions destined to help seafarers in need • Avoid any unnecessary overlaps of responsibilities between charities • Reduce the cost of collections and improve administration • Spread the word of the good work being done by charities nationwide • Only support institutions that were at least three years old, to ease public confusion and help stem the flow of funds to disreputable institutions

collection and distribution. These included the General Distribution Committee, which would deal with grants for Royal Navy, Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleet charities. A list of charities was drawn up and Honorary Visitors appointed to call on them personally to evaluate their activities and premises first-hand. The important role of the Fund as ‘information gatherer’ continues today; this is vital for monitoring the work of charities and assessing the impact they have on the lives of seafarers and their dependants. By the time the war ended in November 1918, the Fund had identified and administered funds to its first grant recipients. To assist in distribution even further, these were grouped into categories the following year.

The UK now had a dedicated body to collect funds in wartime, with an eye firmly set on the future. Some funds would be set aside for use in peacetime, when the needs of seamen and their dependants might be greater than ever, but public donations would be more difficult to obtain.

Mansion House

Our first tasks were to set up a General Council comprising influential individuals with Royal Navy, merchant shipping, business and welfare backgrounds; to appoint a Chairman who would command respect and actively promote the Fund’s work; to gather information from around the UK on maritime charities and which most required and deserved help; and to set up specialist committees to handle

Trinity House

The history of Seafarers UK can be no better felt than within the walls of three buildings – Dixon House (more commonly known as Lloyd’s of London), Mansion House and Trinity House – which have borne witness to the foundation and development of the charity.

Our first basic goals weren’t too different to the ones we have today:

Our early fundraising activities sparked the interest of HM King George V, who was moved by the plight of so many seafarers maimed or lost at sea during the Great War. His support, including a donation of £5,200 in the first year, saw us become the King George’s Fund for Sailors on 5 July 1917 – our official birthday. In 2005, we adopted the working name Seafarers UK, which today better reflects those we help. King George’s Fund for Sailors remains our registered charity name.






Sailors’ Hostels

Training Ships




The basic rate of pay for an ordinary Royal Navy seaman is 1s 5d per day. A loaf of bread costs 4¼d and a pint of beer is 4d

Who did we help in 1919?

5 July The formal launch of the Sailors’ Fund takes place at the Mansion House, London. It will now be called King George’s Fund for Sailors after its first Patron, King George V

23-28 July Actors and actresses give their time to fundraise during Navy Week and raise more than £20,000 for maritime charities

November Faced with a shortage of manpower, the Royal Navy forms the Women’s Royal Naval Service, under the leadership of Dame Katherine Furse



Charles ‘Fred’ Morris


The war had left a humanitarian crisis in its wake. In addition to the 40,000 Royal Naval personnel killed, over 3,000 merchant ships and fishing boats had been sunk with the loss of over 14,500 lives. Wives had lost husbands. Children had lost fathers. Households had lost breadwinners. Thousands of survivors needed medical or rehabilitative support. A key focus for the Fund was to ensure continuing public support through fundraising activities and encouraging the take-up of regular subscriptions. Support came from a wide range of sources as individuals, businesses, trade associations, schools, churches and more contributed to the cause. By 1920, the Fund had raised nearly £900,000

On 19 October 1920, the Chairman of the General Council, HRH The Duke of Connaught, received the charity’s Charter of Incorporation, bestowed by HM The King.

Fred joined the Royal Navy in 1915, aged 15. Just one year later, he was on board dreadnought HMS Marlborough at the scene of one of the largest naval confrontations of the First World War, the Battle of Jutland.

This document encapsulated the Fund’s objectives and values, but more importantly, gave full recognition to its work and continuing importance in the lives of British seafarers and their dependants. King George’s Fund for Sailors was here to stay.

Fred briefly retired in 1938 when it was believed there would be peace, but was quickly recalled in 1939 when the Second World War broke out. He left the Navy in 1945, having served in both world wars, and went on to spend 15 years with the Post Office.

(nearly £41.9 million today) and allocated £214,000 to more than 90 individual maritime charities, with the rest in reserve for future need.


Captain Arthur Wellesley Clarke Our story would no doubt have been very different without the influence of one man, Captain Arthur Wellesley Clarke, who was instrumental in the foundation of King George’s Fund for Sailors and its Deputy Chairman from 1917 to 1932. As a Royal Navy lieutenant, Elder Brother of Trinity House, and affiliate of various maritime charities, Captain Clarke was dedicated to the needs of serving and former seafarers and their families. In 1917, with the First World War taking a significant toll on merchant ships and their crews, he set the wheels in motion for the foundation of our charity.

He recognised that without additional help, the UK’s existing maritime charities would be unable to cope with the distress caused through deaths, wounds and sickness among seamen and the widows and dependants picking up the pieces. He called for the formation of a central fund to effectively distribute aid to maritime charities and instigated the first meeting of charity representatives to discuss the proposals, which, due to his untiring energy and inspiration, met with success. Captain Clarke remained Deputy Chairman of the Fund until he passed away in 1932.


6 July Their Majesties King George and Queen Mary celebrate their Silver Wedding and receive many commemorative gifts, graciously donating the sum of £1,452, gifted by the Ladies’ Section of the Navy League, Durban, to the Fund


November During the course of the war, more than 3,000 merchant ships and fishing boats are sunk and over 14,000 merchant seamen and fishermen lose their lives

19 October The Chairman, HRH The Duke of Connaught, receives the charity’s first Charter of Incorporation from HM The King. Seafarers UK holds an updated version of the Charter to this very day

31 December By the end of 1920, a total of £900,000 has been raised by the charity, with £214,000 already allocated to more than 90 individual nautical institutions

When his health began to fail, Fred was looked after by The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, which has been providing nursing care and accommodation to ex-seafarers, their widows and dependants since 1865. He was cared for by the Society from 1989 until he passed away peacefully aged 102 in 2002. Fred was well loved in the Royal Alfred community and is remembered as a true gentleman.

Helping each other in wartime By properly shining a light on the work of maritime charities for the first time, the Fund witnessed many institutions and their beneficiaries going above and beyond to help those affected by war. Youngsters in orphans’ homes knitted clothes for the troops, charity workers provided extra compassionate support to bereaved widows and training colleges set aside space for Red Cross volunteers.


Prophetic words... ‘It may be that there will at one time be a greater need among the seamen’s hospitals, at another time among orphanages, at another time again among the institutions that provide for the widowed and the aged...’ HRH The Duke of Connaught, Chairman, speaking in 1920


The interwar years


This was an incredibly tough time for Britain’s economy and seafaring community. A decline in trade and shipping left scores of ships rusting in harbour and thousands of merchant seamen out of work and with little means to support their families. Fishing communities were similarly hit, with financial conditions making it difficult for some companies to keep trawlers and drifters in operation. For many, voluntary organisations were their only lifeline. A significant aim of the Fund’s grant-giving work in the 1920s and 1930s, particularly during the Great Depression of 1929-1932, was the alleviation of hardship among seafarers and their dependants still suffering the effects of the war and those hit hardest by long-term unemployment. For fishermen and others still working at sea, the war was over. However, a sailor’s life even in peacetime is a hard and hazardous one. Great progress had been made in safety for workers onshore, but in the words of the General Council in 1928 ‘no human agency can control the wind or waves’. A Home Office white paper that same year revealed seafaring as the most dangerous occupation, with shipping making up the



The Fund sets up the Central Bureau of Naval Officers’ Charities, a highly beneficial information service to help people in need seek assistance and avoid overlapping between the charities

By the end of 1935, a total of £50,555 is awarded in grants by the Fund

most claims under the Workmen’s Compensation Act. Out of work men during the In order for the Great Depression Fund to maintain a stable enough position to meet all these needs, regular support in the form of subscriptions was essential, as was attracting new subscribers. The Fund’s work on behalf of the seafaring community, particularly after being endorsed by Royal Charter, was generally seen as a permanent memorial to the men who had served at sea in the First World War and so subscriptions increased or were well maintained during the interwar years.



20 January HM King George V, the charity’s first Patron, dies at Sandringham House, aged 70. He is succeeded as Patron later that year by the charity’s then President, who becomes King George VI

April The first prototype shipborne radar system is installed on the USS Leary, revolutionising ship navigation




Occasional gifts of the non-financial variety have been very well received by beneficiaries over the years. From 1934 to 1939, a Mr Robert Robertson gifted two tonnes of preserves and mincemeat worth £100 to be shared between hospitals, orphanages, care homes and training ships - just in time for Christmas!

It was also a time of expansion, consolidation and innovation for the Fund. This included setting up an information service for charities dealing with naval officers and their dependants, to help individuals identify the best sources of help. This service proved effective and by 1938, involved around 20 major naval and service funds. The Fund also made real progress building relationships with those it supported, leading to the first conference of maritime charities and the setup of a Representative Council of Sailors’ Missions and Homes in 1930. In 1935, the Fund introduced a standardised system of accounts for charities. Largely well received, this system improved account keeping, helped the Fund’s Distribution Committee better assess the needs of grant recipients and prevented duplicate entries for beneficiaries. Meanwhile, the Fund continued to clamp down on rogue or incompetent operators by identifying them in advance of allocating Flag Days (major collection and fundraising days), making it clear to the public to whom they should donate, forcing many undeserving organisations out of existence and ensuring funds would only go where they were needed most. Well-meaning wealthy and high-profile individuals were also warned to do their research before endorsing any charitable organisation.

Over £2 million in grants

The Second World War

Grants from the King George’s Fund for Sailors to charitable institutions quadrupled between 1939 and 1945. In total £2,014,376 was distributed, nearly a quarter of which were ‘business as usual’ grants and the rest a dedicated War Fund.

Where the First World War had led to the creation of King George’s Fund for Sailors, the second would shape how charitable institutions would work on behalf of UK seafarers in the future.


Only two days in, the transatlantic passenger liner SS Athenia, became the first UK ship to be torpedoed in the conflict, with the loss of 117 lives. The German U-boat, sadly, would come to characterise the violence of the Second World War at sea in the coming months and years. War raged on land, in the air and at sea. The British people once again put their hands in their pockets for seagoing armed and merchant servicemen and their families. The charitable institutions worked hard to continue supporting existing beneficiaries, as well as meet an increase in demand for their services. Ports in the UK and overseas saw an influx of British seamen in need of shelter, food and clothing. Widows and dependants of deceased Navy officers found themselves homeless. Many new entries to orphanages were children who had lost their parents in the war. Coastal communities mourned fishermen killed by enemy action while working. As the war continued, the cost of living in the UK rose, with disastrous effects for those already struggling to survive on meagre incomes, such as seafarers’ widows.

Economic conditions continued to be tough. Increased levels of shipbuilding and overseas trade in 1936 and 1937, which saw some harbours and estuaries return to their former state of activity, turned out to be only temporary. In 1938, many merchant and fishing ships had to be laid up again due to financial difficulties. Sadly, the shipping industry was not able to fully recover by the time the Second World War broke out the following year.




For many institutions, the war quite literally came to them. Premises were bombed and in some cases destroyed. The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (now SSAFA) reported the deaths of two widow residents and a maid in 1941 while the Dreadnought Hospital was bombed twice in the same year. Those not yet attacked scrambled to ensure air raid shelters were fit for purpose. Many institutions evacuated the people in their care to safer temporary premises elsewhere. Then there were the repair bills and the cost to relocate beneficiaries when the war ended. In the case of the Missions to Seamen, 14 of their stations fell into enemy hands; these sites were badly damaged and would need extensive repairs before reopening after the war.




Fishermen continued to head to sea during the war to provide vital food supplies for the nation. In doing so, more than 1,000 British fishermen lost their lives

A direct hit from a bomb destroys operating theatres at the Dreadnought Seamen’s Hospital. The following year an incendiary attack destroys most of the roof

Only the beginning This bureaucratic snapshot of a Merchant Navy sailor being discharged from duty is a poignant reminder that for many leaving a life at sea, the really hard times were still ahead. The value of wet fish landed in the UK this year totals more than £12.3 million

Lieutenant-General Gerald Hickson, Royal Marines, joins the Fund as Chief Executive. He is remembered as a man of strong character and clear vision

Britain’s merchant fleet is the largest in the world, accounting for more than one third of global tonnage

3 September The Second World War breaks out. At this time, the Royal Navy is the largest navy in the world

5 September Two days into the conflict, the passenger liner SS Athenia is the first British ship to be sunk, with 117 lives lost

Rationing is introduced as enemy ships target incoming Allied merchant vessels, preventing vital supplies including fruit, sugar, cereals and meat from reaching Britain




The Fund itself came under fire. Trinity House in London, where two of the Fund’s inaugural meetings were held and was the Fund’s official address for 30 years, was destroyed in the Blitz of 1940, to be later faithfully restored in 1953. The Fund worked tirelessly throughout the war years to support its members in their usual work and in dealing with the challenges and increased demand on their services as a result of war. Public appeals, whether broadcast or in print, were crucial. The war propelled seamen’s welfare onto the government agenda for a number of reasons. The UK’s ports were becoming increasingly important amid bombing attacks out at sea, leading to ports handling increased levels of seaborne traffic and receiving greater numbers of additional British and Allied seamen. Before the war, the shipping industry had been involved in the work of voluntary organisations, but had taken no organisational part in shore welfare itself. However, providing food, accommodation and welfare services for the increased numbers coming into port areas was beyond the resources of the voluntary organisations. The government had to step in to fill this gap, as a legitimate and vital cost of war. Another challenge was ironically as a result of increased public generosity; some societies, particularly the more wellestablished ones, started taking increasingly independent action and cooperation with other societies and the Fund suffered. Would-be donors and seafarers alike were confused and angered as charities competed for public support. The situation had to be reined in, particularly after the progress made by the Fund to make things more straightforward.


‘The Chicken Man’

Meanwhile, Ernest Bevin, then Minister of Labour, set up the wartime Seamen’s Welfare Board in 1940 to address the lack of direct involvement of the shipping industry in seamen’s welfare ashore and deal with quickly changing emergencies. Shipowners and seafarers were strongly represented on the Board and the port welfare committees it set up. Gerald Hickson, then Chief Executive of King George’s Fund for Sailors, was appointed a member of the Board, placing the Fund at the centre of the action. Between the voluntary organisations and the government, the welfare needs of the increased port seafarer populations were thus met.

This gentleman, who we have affectionately nicknamed ‘The Chicken Man’ because he was a poultry farmer and his real name is unknown, served as a Torpedo Gunner’s Mate and a sea mine expert on submarines during the First World War. After leaving the Navy, he set up a poultry farm. In 1939 he was recalled to help cope with the German mine menace and had to abandon his birds. Two years later he was invalided and left with little prospects.

THE CAUSE ‘These are the men for whom I appeal [the Royal Navy, the merchant ships, the minesweepers...]. What is common to them all? Their work goes on without rest or pause...in winter seas, with all that that means in constant peril... But unless these men had freely offered themselves for our service and reckoned their very lives as not a scruple in the balance when weighed against what they have seen as their Duty, then our factories and mills would be slowly but surely closed down and you and I would be on short rations which would get shorter and shorter. In fact they hold our lives in their hands.’ Earl Baldwin of Bewdley in his BBC appeal for the Fund on Sunday 17 December 1939


The Royal Naval Benevolent Trust, which offers financial assistance to Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel and their families, provided the funds for him to return to his chicken farming – giving him back his livelihood. The only information we have on this man is an old photo with a caption on the back. If you know who he is, please get in touch!

Meanwhile, as the Fund’s member charities toiled to meet the needs of their beneficiaries, they were all too aware of their responsibility when the war was over. What provision would there be for disabled seafarers and those unfit to resume their sea life and for war orphans and other dependants of seafarers who had died? There was also a real concern that, as seen after the First World War, public support would diminish significantly. Indeed, in October 1945, a mere month after the war had ended, the General Council noted ‘the emotion of war has acted as a stimulant to collection and that stimulant has now gone’. The government had now also taken a more active role in the welfare of seafarers. Mr Bevin set up the Graham White Committee in 1943, the result of which was the Graham White Report, which recommended the set-up of a statutory board responsible for the post-war welfare of Merchant Navy seamen in port. It also called for closer partnership working between the shipping industry, voluntary organisations and local authorities.

Women’s Royal Naval Service Faced with a shortage of manpower during the First World War, the Royal Navy formed the Women’s Royal Naval Service in November 1917. Under the leadership of Dame Katherine Furse, the affectionately named ‘Jenny Wrens’ were tasked with domestic duties, however, labour shortages continued and the Wrens soon found themselves taking on more complex jobs, including maintaining aircraft, signalling and coding.



This led to the formation of the Merchant Navy Welfare Board (MNWB) in 1948, whose main concern at that time was with port residential and non-residential premises for serving seafarers. It also made substantial grants each year at home and overseas to other welfare organisations. To avoid overlap with the activities of King George’s Fund for Sailors, several members of the Fund’s General Council became members of the MNWB. To encourage cooperation with this new body and to ensure balanced and efficient services and fundraising for seafarers, the Fund convened a meeting of voluntary organisations in October of that year. There they pledged to consult with the MNWB before making any public appeals for funds or establishing any new or improved welfare facilities and to observe the Board’s prescribed standards for seafarer accommodation. The Second World War had brought tragedy and hardship and posed one of the Fund’s biggest challenges. However, thanks to improved cooperation between maritime charities, the shipping industry and the government, the conflict had proved a step forward in terms of the Fund’s role and reach. As in the First World War, when fighting broke out in 1939 the Wrens provided vital support, this time taking on roles as radio operators, meteorologists and seagoing Cypher Officers. After the Normandy landings in June 1944, 500 Wrens went to support the advancing Allies in Europe. By the end of the war, approximately 75,000 Wrens had served, with more than 300 losing their lives. Since the formation of the WRNS, life for servicewomen has changed beyond all recognition and today’s women of the Royal Navy now serve alongside their male colleagues.



HMS Anson’s 1942 Christmas Day menu

The Battle of the Atlantic escalates and will continue until 1945, with German submarines trying to prevent Allied merchant ships from transporting vital food supplies, troops and equipment

Ernest Bevin sets up the Seamen’s Welfare Board to deliver help to those in port (later succeeded by the Merchant Navy Welfare Board, which we have worked closely with ever since)

29 December Trinity House, the Fund’s headquarters and official address since 1917, is destroyed during the Blitz

Colonial merchant seamen crewed British ships, shovelling coal below decks. Their death toll was high, with 5,000 of the 15,000 colonial seamen perishing

1 September May The first British Arctic convoy reaches northern As D-Day draws closer, increasing numbers Russia. Those aboard endured freezing of WRNS personnel work in combined conditions and risked enemy attacks to deliver operations in Europe, supporting the essential supplies to the Soviet Union. More advancing Allies. By the end of the war, than 3,000 men died in the convoys approx. 75,000 women had served as Wrens

6 June Operation Neptune launches with 1,212 Allied warships, 4,125 amphibious craft, 735 ancillary craft and 864 merchant ships. Two hundred naval aircraft are also present as the Allies launch an assault to liberate north-west Europe

1944 The basic rate of pay for an ordinary Royal Navy seaman is 2s 9d per day. A loaf of bread costs 4d and a pint of beer is 6d




New beginnings, new challenges 1946-1969 Peace had returned, but for many of Britain’s former and serving seafarers and their families, the tough times were far from over. For maritime charities, it was a time to rebuild and refocus.

The Springbok Rehabilitation Centre

The need for help among beneficiaries was stronger than ever. Lives and livelihoods had been altered beyond recognition. Hardship was common among the widows and dependants of seafarers who had lost their lives in both world wars; disabled seamen needed care and rehabilitation; and the number of ageing former seafarers was on the rise. The Second World War, despite Britain’s victory, had started the steady decline in British imperial power, with significant effects on the country’s economy. For charities, this meant an increase both in calls for assistance from beneficiaries and the effort required to muster donations from the public.

Building and modernisation were a key focus for the maritime charities working to best serve the needs of the people in their care in the future. This was not just about war damage repairs but improvements in facilities and the creation of new ones.

Fortunately, the Fund had entered the late 1940s with an increased public profile, which, together with regular fundraising appeals, helped it to weather the expected post-war decline in donations from the public and to maintain grants at a fairly consistent level amid difficult economic conditions. However, it occasionally had to make some tough decisions, including in 1948 when it had to turn down requests from various societies in order to focus on the most urgent cases.

Apart from the formation of the Merchant Navy Welfare Board in 1948, alongside which the Fund has worked in the interests of merchant seamen and their families ever since, there were other important developments for the Fund from the 1940s to the 1960s.



The Merchant Navy Welfare Board is established, bringing together the last five years of work for the welfare of seafarers

May The Fund moves to its new Chesham Street, London, headquarters, purchased in 1947, along with its London and Home Counties branches

The International Marine Organisation is founded. The organisation is a specialist United Nations agency responsible for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution

January The Fund introduces its own newspaper, Sailors’ News, as part of its information service. The publication is distributed to friends of the Fund and the press, who often reprint articles and news items

Located at Alford in Surrey, this was one of the major building projects supported by the Fund between the 1940s and 1960s. The brainchild of the Merchant Seaman’s War Memorial Society (now Care Ashore, which is still today supported by Seafarers UK), the centre helped to retrain disabled merchant seamen in farming, horticulture and other disciplines. It was so named due to a £100,000 gift to the Fund from South Africa, in honour of the Royal Navy and Merchant Navy in the war. Care Ashore’s head office is still based on the Springbok estate and the house today provides accommodation for seafarers living alone.

Sarah and Paul Paul served in the Royal Navy as a nuclear tester in the 1950s. He was stationed on Christmas Island during Operation Grapple-Y, Britain’s largest ever nuclear test, and as part of his duties was present at the event and assisted in collecting samples. Sarah and Paul later had a baby son who was born with a number of health conditions, including Down’s syndrome, autism and scoliosis. Paul died of cancer in 2002, leaving Sarah as sole carer for their son. Due to the level of care he required, Sarah was unable to work and the family almost lost their house. The Seafarers’ Advice and Information Line provided Sarah with much needed financial help by advising on what benefits she could claim, including discretionary housing payments. It also found a specialist lawyer who gave her legal advice.


In 1948, the Fund’s headquarters and London and Home Counties offices were moved to 1 Chesham Street in London, following the destruction of Trinity House in 1940. In 1952, HM Queen Elizabeth II became Patron, a post she retains to this day. In keeping with the tradition set by previous Royal patrons, she was also a regular subscriber herself. When the charity celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1967, she said: ‘Our country continues to owe a great debt in peace, as in war, to the unfailing devotion to duty of the sailors of the Royal and Merchant Navies and the Fishing Fleets.’ These words carry the same relevance and weight today. Meanwhile, the 1960s were bringing important technological developments that would transform the shipping industry. On 23 April 1966, a container ship made its first international voyage and by 1969, the largest of such ships being built in Europe could carry 2,000 20-foot containers. (Today, the largest container ship in the world by capacity is the MSC Oscar, capable of carrying up to 19,224 20-foot containers.) Containerisation was a massive boost for

international trade, but had serious consequences for port workers; because containers could be packed at source and transported and moved easily between ships, trucks and trains, in most cases this took away the need for manual sorting and warehousing and ports became bigger and fewer in number. Many dock workers, who had previously handled goods in their transition from shore to ship, were displaced. A new industry had emerged and with it the need for new skills as investment turned to related vessels, containers, terminals, offices and information technology. For the fishing industry, this period heralded the arrival of the first ‘super trawlers’, designed to freeze and stow the whole of their catches at sub-zero temperatures, thus enabling the vessel to stay out at sea for longer and maximise its yield. Investment in ships like this meant improved onboard living and working conditions for the crew who could be at sea for up to six weeks.



June HM Queen Elizabeth II becomes Patron of King George’s Fund for Sailors, prior to her coronation on 2 June 1953

5 November HM The Queen unveils the Second World War extension of the Tower Hill Memorial, London. It commemorates the 36,000 men and women of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets who have no grave but the sea


5 July 1967 King George’s Fund for Sailors celebrates its 50th anniversary

31 December By the end of 1967, a total of £264,227 has been given in grants by the charity to individual nautical institutions




Troubling times for the nation’s seafarers Key events in these two decades had a significant impact on beneficiaries supported by the Fund and maritime charities, from the economic turmoil of the 70s to the Falklands War in 1982 and its aftermath. Rising inflation and living costs from the early 1970s onwards put pressure on households of already limited means and risked affecting charity donations. The oil crisis of 1973, which coincided with a rise in the price of coal and strike action by British miners, led to the lights being switched off once again. The enforcement of the three-day working week in early 1974 as a way of limiting energy consumption, brought about further blackouts, reduced earnings and job losses. Despite the challenges, King George’s Fund for Sailors was able to keep its head above water thanks to the ‘unfailing generosity and persistent efforts of our own ‘Samaritans’’ and to continue appealing and raising money for seafarers and their dependants.

nation could not forget its reliance on the sea or its duty to serving and former seafarers and their families.

Raising awareness was as important for the Fund then as it is today. As well as informing the public as to its objects and activities, the Fund was also involved in spreading the word on the individual charities in receipt of its grants and, of course, championing the seafarer. In 1973, Joseph Godber, the then Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, revealed that 50 per cent of the nation’s food was imported, mainly by sea. Between this, the contribution of the fishing communities and the Royal Navy and other seaborne armed forces, the

In 1976, the Fund supported 100 maritime charities. Why so many? Then, as now, a large range of quality charities across a wide geographical spread, each with its own remit, specialisms and objectives, meant beneficiaries could get the care they needed, where they needed it. Faith organisations also made their contribution, with missionary societies offering both spiritual and practical support to seafarers across land and sea.





May The Fund produces its first Bulletin newsletter

20 October The Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGs) establishes ‘rules of the road’ for ships and other vessels at sea to reduce the risk of collisions

The amount of fish landed by home fishing fleets peaks at one million tonnes. Landings have since been in decline, stabilising at around 400,000 tonnes annually since 2009

The amount given in grants to charities providing vital support to the children of seafarers totals more than £121,000 in this year alone


Conditions in the Falklands This snapshot is from a letter sent by RFA Quartermaster William Fraser to his wife Gladys two weeks before his death from a heart attack in June 1982.

On Her Majesty’s Seafarers’ Service Going back through our fascinating archives one man is mentioned at several intervals – Bond, James Bond. Funds raised at the London world charity premieres of The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977 and Tomorrow Never Dies in 1997 went to King George’s Fund for Sailors. The fishing community must also have its share of 007 fans as, among a range of features to improve living conditions onboard the Victory, one of a new breed of super trawlers launched in 1966, was a recreation room complete with the latest films including, you guessed it, James Bond!

Fishing dock at the Port of Fleetwood, Lancashire, in 1989

John Hood


Scotland Representative John went to sea aged 19 as an assistant purser with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA), embarking on a career that would span more than 40 years. In 1982 John was purser onboard RFA Sir Galahad and sailed with the Task Force to retake the Falkland Islands following the Argentine invasion. He survived her tragic loss at Fitzroy and went on to serve in most classes of RFAs across the globe and in shore appointments in Navy Command Headquarters. His final appointment in 2010 was Human Resources Director for the RFA. Retiring in 2015, John wanted to give something back to the maritime community that had served him so well and became Seafarers UK’s representative in Scotland. John greatly enjoys his role with the charity and as an advocate for our maritime communities.


The maritime charities also helped close gaps in aid from the welfare state, which, while recognised as a lifeline in itself to seafarers and their families, could not fulfil all needs. Charities could, for example, help cover medical expenses incurred abroad, where the NHS could not; support children facing the disruption of moving school following the death or serious incapacity of a parent; and improve quality of life for elderly beneficiaries going beyond the ‘essentials’ covered by local authorities. Throughout the history of the Fund, charities have proved themselves resilient and adaptable in the face of adversity. The Falklands War in 1982, a ten-week conflict between Argentinian and British forces for control of the Falkland Islands, was no exception. It claimed the lives of 123 British Army personnel, 88 Royal Navy seamen, 27 Royal Marines, eight members of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, eight Merchant Navy sailors, and one Royal Air Force Officer. Hundreds more serving personnel were injured. King George’s Fund for Sailors set up a separate Falklands Fund to help provide assistance in the cases of countless Royal Navy, Royal Marine, Royal Fleet Auxiliary and Merchant Navy personnel who had served in the conflict. Grants were given in individual cases of injury and to widows and dependants of those who had lost their lives. Additional support was also given to charities such as the Royal Naval Benevolent Trust, Missions to Seamen and the Sailors’ Children’s Society to help pick up the pieces of lives devastated by the conflict. The human cost of the Falklands could be counted not just in the injuries and illnesses needing immediate attention, from broken bones and burns to limb amputations and pneumonia. Families had lost primary breadwinners. Then there were the psychological

scars many survivors bore, caused by battle and the hardship they had witnessed among personnel and civilians alike. From the 1970s onwards, incidents of terrorism cast a dark cloud over homeland security. Two particular IRA attacks during this period had a direct impact on the maritime charity community. In 1979, the Earl Mountbatten of Burma, the Fund’s President from 1942 to 1977, was assassinated at his summer home in Mullaghmore, Ireland. The Fund paid tribute to him as ‘a great patriot to whom we owe an immense debt of gratitude’. In 1989, 11 Royal Marine musicians were killed and 22 people were injured in a bomb blast at Deal barracks in Kent. The Fund condemned the attack, saying ‘the bombing affected everyone, not only in the seafaring world’. Despite these terrible moments, the Fund remained focused on the task at hand – fulfilling the present and future needs of its beneficiaries. Its key areas of focus in the late 1980s included attending to the needs of an ageing population, continuing to raise awareness of its work, boosting national support by setting up an increased number of regional committees and promoting legacy giving.

HMS Antelope, a Royal Navy frigate that was bombed on 23 May 1982 during the Falklands War



3 April Faced with insufficient troop and military transport lift capacity, 54 merchant ships are taken up from trade to assist the armed forces during the South Atlantic conflict

8 June The RFA Sir Galahad is bombed by the Argentinian air force and 53 of those on board lose their lives

July The South Atlantic Fund is formed to assist those injured in the Falklands conflict and their widows and dependants, from which King George’s Fund for Sailors receives valued support for Falklands-related cases

1 February The first issue of Flagship is published by the Fund




A changing world 1990-2016 The past quarter of a century has probably seen a greater evolution in seaborne trade and technology than the previous 75 years. Containerisation is now the norm. The largest cargo plane in the world would need to make more than 770 journeys to transport the maximum capacity of the largest containership in a single voyage. And these colossal vessels are manned by tens, rather than hundreds, of seafarers. Port security is higher than ever, with razor-wire and fencing rendering many invisible to the public. Warships have also become more technologically advanced in both propulsion and weaponry, often with two-thirds fewer people aboard compared to their pre-Second World War counterparts. With such changes in the sector, a proactive and flexible charity must evolve at the same rate as the beneficiaries it serves. Given the unique position of King George’s Fund for Sailors, reaching across the entire UK maritime community and beyond, it has a much wider role in being able to appreciate such changes and react to them swiftly and objectively, while providing an example to smaller organisations. The last 25 years has seen a reduction in one of the Fund’s primary roles, assistance for Royal Navy seafarers, after the Royal Navy decided it wished to have more influence over a charity closer to its own command chain, on similar lines to the Army and Royal Air Force’s benevolent funds. This led to the creation of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC), with assistance from Greenwich Hospital, to oversee Royal Navy welfare and amenities both within and


October A trust, holding nearly £3 million, is set up for personnel affected by service in the Gulf War, including many members of the Royal Navy

outside the serving Navy. From being one of the primary sources of funds to the many Royal Navy welfare charities, King George’s Fund for Sailors offered considerable assistance to this fledgling charity, while also retaining a reduced naval grants programme of its own. This significant shift in maritime charity policy gave the Fund the opportunity to examine its own position and some research revealed that many members of the public and even some supporters thought that it had always been primarily a Royal Navy institution and the ‘Sailors’ in the title only represented Royal Navy ratings. Efforts to maintain a level playing field across both Royal and Merchant Navies and the Fishing Fleets had not been entirely successful, but this stark realisation enabled the charity to take a more radical look at its own future.



The introduction of the Charities Act is a significant move for the third sector, providing regulation on fundraising activities for charitable institutes

5 July King George’s Fund for Sailors celebrates its 75th anniversary

8 September The Fund moves its headquarters from Chesham Street to Hatherley Street, London, its current home


Debbie was working as a head chef and supervisor on a ship when she slipped while cleaning the walk-in fridges, leaving her temporarily paralysed from the waist down. Over the next year Debbie was off work, housebound, lonely and on strong medication for her injury. When her company stopped paying her, Debbie was worried about making ends meet so she called the Seafarers’ Advice and Information Line for help. It advised on what benefits she could claim and sent a caseworker to visit her. Even though she was entitled to certain support, Debbie did not have enough to live on, so SAIL made enquiries with other charities for further assistance. Debbie finally underwent a five hour operation on her back and with ongoing physio and exercises, things started to improve and she has now returned to work full time.


Stewart Stewart was just 15 when his father handed him a set of oilskins, a sou’wester and sea boots and said: ‘You go to sea on Monday morning.’ Starting as ship’s cook, he worked his way up to being a skipper of his own boat. Over 46 years, Stewart lived through the hardship that fishermen endure, both at sea and on land. He and the others would have weeks at sea where they would catch nothing, often going home unpaid. Stewart has also lost close friends to bad weather and accidents and has been in danger himself having gone overboard a number of times. He puts his survival down to the way that the fleet considers itself as one close family – everyone comes together in an emergency to help. Stewart firmly believes that The Fishermen’s Mission is a vital part of that family too, having witnessed its constant support of fishermen and their families in hard times. His son Douglas, who followed in his father’s footsteps, and his crew, use The Fishermen’s Mission’s Troon facility on a regular basis to have a shower and something to eat when they come back to port late at night.

The promotion of safety at sea is one of Seafarers UK’s main charitable objectives. Recent initiatives include a grant to Seafish to supply 1,500 fishermen with personal flotation devices.

Determined to honour the objects set out when it was founded in 1917, the Fund preserved its tripartite grants programme, albeit on an adjusted basis, and maintained the many other links which had been fostered between the three seagoing arms. The Fund remains the only organisation with the mandate to represent and campaign on behalf of the whole UK maritime community.


Fortunately, after a couple of years of promotion, most people came to accept that actually Seafarers UK was quite a snappy title. A decade later, it is now universally accepted as representing a forward-looking and uncompromising modern organisation providing finance and leadership in equal measure.

Seafarers UK remains the only organisation with the mandate to represent and campaign on behalf of the whole UK maritime community. Although King George’s Fund for Sailors remains the legal entity, perhaps the greatest external change during this period was the adoption of the working title ‘Seafarers UK’ in 2005. This provided an opportunity to rebrand in every area of operation and make all stakeholders aware of the changes. Despite the fact that the new name more accurately reflected the charity’s altered role, it attracted some criticism, which Seafarers UK was required to tackle while attempting to explain that its prime duty was to provide the best service to its beneficiaries.



Newlyn Harbour 2015, with special thanks to Bernie Pettersen © bjp-photography.com




YEARS 3 September The UK marks its first Merchant Navy Day, to honour the merchant seafarers who kept the nation ‘afloat’ during both World Wars

26 December An earthquake in the Indian Ocean causes a tsunami which leaves millions homeless and more than 230,000 dead. The Fund sets up an emergency fund to assist local fishermen in rebuilding their lives

January King George’s Fund for Sailors adopts the working name, Seafarers UK, to better reflect the needs and diversity of those it helps

The Supporting Seafarers Conference brings together 75 maritime charities and organisations to consider the needs of the UK seafaring community and emphasise the value of working together




This period has also seen vastly improved co-operation and partnership working between the major funding organisations. Following some exploratory moves after a conference brokered by the Fund in 1997, the embryonic Grants to Organisations Working Group evolved into the Maritime Charities Funding Group and then simply the Maritime Charities Group, with an even wider remit for collaboration. Initially chaired by the Merchant Navy Welfare Board and now by Seafarers UK, it has commissioned two programmes of major cross-sector research leading to a groundbreaking Supporting Seafarers Conference in 2007, to be followed in late 2017 with a similar event to update the sector on a decade of progress.

Keith was serving in the Merchant Navy as second in command of his ship when he suffered a fatal heart attack and passed away at the age of 40. His sudden death came as a shock to his family and left his wife Susan a widow at the age of 32, with two young children to support.

In 2010, the Royal Charter was updated and reissued, to ensure that the charity’s founding principles remained absolutely in line with modern governance and legal best practice. This provided reassurance for the Charity Commission and the Privy Council that Seafarers UK retained the powers and the flexibility to target those sections of the community where the need is greatest and intervention will promote the very best outcomes.

As a merchant seafarer, Keith was often away from his family for up to four months at a time, so the moments they spent together were very precious to him.

Safety at sea, however, remained a crucial issue, with incidents such as the Hull triple trawler tragedy, in which 58 crew members died in three separate trawler sinkings in January and February 1968, attracting widespread publicity and highlighting the conditions in which fishermen worked. This prompted an official inquiry, which would lead to major changes to employment and working practices in the British fishing industry.



Amid continuing combat operations in The first Seafarers Awareness Week takes Afghanistan, the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, place. This is a key week in Seafarers UK’s Naval Special Forces and numerous calendar and has gone from strength to engineers, medics and reserves, provide strength, with beneficiary charities and the lead and majority of UK forces thousands of supporters taking part each year

Keith and Susan’s children were still very young when he passed away and found it hard to accept the fact that he was never to return again. The Royal Liverpool Seamen’s Orphan Institution provided a maintenance grant, which allowed Susan to support her children during their school years and the grant made a significant difference to all of their futures.

2013 - 2014

Seafarers UK awards an emergency grant of £50,000 to the Fishermen’s Mission to help launch its fundraising appeal, supporting fishermen and their families affected by the heavy flooding


A total of £3,578,465 is given by the charity in 2015, helping over 173,000 seafarers, widows and dependants in need

Susan’s son is now about to start his second year at university studying Physical and Sport Education and is receiving financial support from The Royal Merchant Navy Education Foundation.


Ways to support us


‘In faith and hope the world will disagree, but all mankind’s concern is charity’ Alexander The Great

Donations and events remain two of the charity’s primary sources of income, and we’re always fascinated by how people fundraise. From doll-dressing competitions, recipe books and art exhibitions, to fashion shows, movie screenings, naval balls and feats of physical endurance like today’s 24 Peaks Challenge, it is only with our supporters’ help and generosity that we can continue to make a difference in the lives of seafarers and their families.


Some even turn their hobbies or vocations into ways of raising money. An unusual example found in the Seafarers UK archives is that of Mrs E. Campbell, who gave her 1 shilling fee for interpreting human characteristics from handwriting to the Fund. She made this donation for 22 years from 1940 until her death in 1962, raising a total of £1,170.





YEARS (1917-2017)

Seafarers UK launches its ‘Fly the flag for Merchant Navy Day’ initiative, encouraging people to fly the Red Ensign to raise funds for Seafarers UK’s Merchant Navy Fund

31 May to 1 June The 100th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland, the biggest naval battle of the First World War where more than 8,500 seafarers lost their lives (read about Fred Morris, who served at Jutland, on page 8)

2016 The basic rate of pay for an ordinary Royal Navy seaman is £56.86 per day. A loaf of bread costs £1 and a pint of beer £3.50

Seafarers UK celebrates its 100th anniversary with a range of commemorative events, including this publication and a major conference to set a clear path for the future provision of charitable services to the maritime community



Where we are now


Centenary projects

What is so special about 100 years of continuous and successful operation? Why have we felt the need to examine our archives, our memories and sometimes our consciences to think back over a turbulent century, charting our evolution through times of war, recession, retreat from Empire, the welfare state and huge social change?

We believe that seafaring, from the days of the saints in their coracles to the new generation of aircraft carriers, has played an absolutely pivotal role in our nation’s evolution from a remote offshore island to a hugely influential global position. This has not always been a straightforward path, but our seafarers have played a role like no other in defending us, feeding us and keeping us supplied in times of dire national peril. Indeed, as you have seen, our charity was born out of the carnage of the first Battle of the Atlantic in 1917, helped to succour the many casualties of the second such battle between 1939 and 1945. Even in the quieter years, our ships and their crews continued to support us, plying their vital trade on sometimes dangerous and often lonely voyages.

Seafarers UK has launched three special projects based on the ‘Past’, ‘Present’ and ‘Future’, themes shared by this very publication, which will make a significant difference and leave a lasting legacy beyond the Centenary year.


2 The International Port Welfare Project Welfare facilities in UK commercial ports for domestic and visiting mariners have been recognised as some of the best in the world since the founding of the Merchant Navy Welfare Board (MNWB) in 1948. Seafarers UK is therefore partnering with MNWB and others on the International Port Welfare Project, in order to establish a similarly high standard of facilities in all the major ports of the world. Although Seafarers UK’s own remit is limited to mariners from the UK and Commonwealth, this group provides about one-third of international seafarers. The trustees’ vision, therefore, is that Seafarers UK should support up to one-third of any global welfare initiative. This project is well underway and achieving some notable successes.


We believe it is time for reflection, for commemoration and celebration and thus the idea of ‘Centenary’ has come to play a very special part in our lives with a calendar full of events for 2017. Commodore Barry Bryant CVO, RN, Director General of Seafarers UK


3 Marine Engineering Pathway

1 Mariners’ Park, Wallasey

One of Seafarers UK’s long-established goals, as laid out in the Royal Charter, is to help educate and train the seafarers of the future.

Trinity House marked its own quincentennial in 2014 by building the first half of an ambitious complex in Nautilus UK’s Mariners’ Park in Wallasey. Now, Seafarers UK has pledged a significant sum to finance the majority of the remainder of this building. The ‘Seafarers UK Centenary Wing’ will provide state-of-theart accommodation for elderly or retired ex-seafarers and veterans from the Merchant Navy or Royal Navy for many decades to come.

Noting the increasing need for qualified marine engineers, the charity has partnered with the Marine Society and Sea Cadets to provide a fleet of well-equipped trailers, known affectionately as ‘Pods’, to tour cadet units and schools to provide initial tasting sessions and the ability to award basic engineering qualifications to youngsters who may not otherwise have considered such a career.


Commodore Barry Bryant continues: ‘The emotional public response in August 2014 to the start of four years of remembrance of the First World War serves as a reminder that many seafarers have no grave but the sea. We have a duty to remember and perhaps an even greater duty to look after those left behind. Unlike the Army and Air Force, seafarers in whatever rig face an unforgiving environment every day of their working lives, and we believe this makes them a very special and unique breed, deserving of the nation’s understanding and appreciation.’ In recent years, Seafarers UK has worked hard to: • Raise the profile of seafaring as a profession • Publicise the hard facts • Explain the massive improvements in safety and working conditions • Help young people understand and consider the opportunities for them in the marine and maritime industries The recent national Maritime Growth Study masterminded by Trustee, Lord Mountevans, has enabled Seafarers UK to take an even greater role in campaigning and public awareness in 2017. The charity looks forward to closer involvement with the government and institutions like the Chamber of Shipping and Maritime UK in order to present a more united commercial shipping industry that fully promotes the development and care of people.

The Lord Mayor of the City of London launching Seafarers UK’s ‘Marine Engineering Pathway’ project at Mansion House, 15 June

The common theme running through almost all of the Centenary activities is partnerships. Only by harnessing the resources and strengths of all organisations will the needs of beneficiaries be safeguarded.





Looking ahead 2018-2050 Seafarers UK’s main aims now are to continue, in the most efficient way possible, its vital services to the whole of the UK’s maritime community and manage the ongoing research, planning and leadership process that will help ensure that the total resources of all maritime welfare organisations are used most effectively in a changing world.

This is also the mission of the Maritime Charities Group (MCG), which is chaired by Seafarers UK. The Supporting Seafarers Conference in late 2017, which will effectively round off the Centenary year calendar, will set a clearer path that others will follow. Grant-making will continue but may perhaps take a more proactive and socially innovative path. In the next 30 years, the total number of present and past seafarers and their immediate dependants is expected to reduce in size by over 50 per cent, with different rates of change across the Royal Navy, Merchant Navy and fishing communities. External factors such as increased life expectancy, improved pensions and even the exit from the European Union will affect beneficiaries. A proactive approach is required by maritime charities, not only to deal with any adverse effects, but to take early and innovative action where possible to ensure transition both into and out of the seafaring life is as smooth as possible. Significant progress has been made by the Armed Forces to improve the transition process for those connected to the Royal Navy in recent years and Seafarers UK has been closely involved with organisations such as the Confederation of Service Charities and Veterans Scotland. The focus is now on achieving similar outcomes for merchant and fishing sailors; any investment, training and experience should benefit individuals as well as the whole maritime economy and industry. The rate of technological change gets faster as each year passes and the charity world has sometimes failed to keep up. Ten years ago there was a demand for oldstyle telephone lines in ports; now visiting seafarers demand Wi-Fi and Skype facilities and often don’t access traditional hostels and centres. The world will be a very

different place by 2050. The role of automation in shipping risks seafarers slipping even further from the public consciousness but maritime trade will still be fundamental to the nation’s future prosperity.

Captain Duncan Glass OBE, MNM, Vice President

At the age of 14, Duncan left school to pursue a career in the Merchant Navy, trading worldwide and then on ice class ships serving the Baltic countries with Andrew Weir Shipping. After 26 years’ service at sea, Duncan became Fleet Director and in 1988 joined King George’s Fund for Sailors as a trustee. In 1999 he became an Elder Brother of Trinity House. His involvement with the Fund saw the number of beneficiary charities streamlined in order to better serve the needs of the maritime community and ensure fair distribution of funds. In 2001 he assumed the role of Deputy Chairman of the Fund and in 2009, served as Chairman. Duncan is Vice President and now works hard to meet the challenges longer life expectancies are having on resourcing for welfare charities. He is Chairman of the Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, and despite the number of seafarers reducing, the level of charitable support required will likely increase in the next 50 years.

Guided by the MCG research and advice from other industrial sectors, commercial supporters and leading charity associations, Seafarers UK is determined to go on providing a strong and clear campaigning and awareness function that recognises past sacrifices and confronts present realities. Operating within the heart of the maritime industry will put Seafarers UK in a strong position from which to influence social development and optimise welfare provision. It is only due to the generous support of so many millions of individual donations and legacies that this charity can celebrate one hundred years of achievement and progress. Thanks to legions of loyal supporters, from Buckingham Palace to street corners, attending gala events, shaking collecting tins, running marathons and climbing mountains, the lives of thousands of beneficiaries have been changed for the better – some of their stories, from First World War veterans to future sailing champions, can be found in this very publication. Further acknowledgement must be given to the often unsung leadership, direction and guidance of dedicated Chairmen and hundreds of Trustees over the past century, providing expertise and experience across a wide spectrum of individual disciplines. Strong and wise governance is absolutely vital to a successful charity and King George’s Fund for Sailors, from its earliest days, has been privileged to have many distinguished names in its Trustee record book.

Commodore Barry Bryant says: ‘As we remember, commemorate and celebrate, let us also consider that there is much to be done and, in the very nature of a humanitarian organisation, there always will be. With a wide constituency, nationwide and increasingly global and with beneficiaries literally from cradle to grave, the exigencies of the seafaring life and sheer human frailty will ensure that our role – in some shape or form – will continue.

‘As Seafarers UK looks beyond its Centenary, still guided by a far-sighted and flexible Royal Charter, we will retain the ability to do what must be done, help where help is most needed and work with all our fellow organisations to plan for a future where all our many seafarers and their families, past, present and future, have a distinctive, proud, safe and secure place in our national life.’

Mike Mike joined the Royal Navy at 17 but was made redundant by Ministry of Defence budget cuts. He was still keen to pursue a career at sea but needed financial assistance to retrain. He gained this via a Seafarers UK bursary scheme to assist students from disadvantaged backgrounds in gaining skills, confidence and ultimately employability as seafarers by completing the UKSA’s Officer of the Watch 3000GT professional super yacht cadetship. He is still on his three-year course. The UKSA charity provides youth development programmes and residential courses for schools and groups, young offenders, young people living on benefits and those not in education, employment or training (NEET).


In memory


Here we remember Admiral Sir William O’Brien, former Chairman of King George’s Fund for Sailors from 1974 to 1986, who passed away in February 2016. Having been born in November 1916, he was six months older than our charity when he died.


100 years of our people Patrons 1917-1936 1936 1936-1952 Since 1952

Chairmen HM King George V HM King Edward VIII HM King George VI HM Queen Elizabeth II

Presidents 1917-1936 1936-1942 1942-1977 1977-2011 Since 2011

Lieutenant HRH The Prince Albert KG, RN (became The Duke of York in 1920) HRH The Duke of Kent KG Admiral of the Fleet The Earl Mountbatten of Burma KG, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, DSO Admiral of the Fleet HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh KG, KT HRH The Earl of Wessex KG, GCVO, CD, ADC(P)

© 2013 The Royal Household Bagshot Park/ Image by Millie Pilkington Only to be reproduced with permission

Admiral Sir William O'Brien by Bassano Ltd, 19 August 1965 © National Portrait Gallery, London

1917-1941 1941-1946 1946-1949 1949 1949-1963 1963-1974 1974-1986 1986-1993 1993-2003 2003-2007 2007-2009 2009 Since 2009

HRH The Duke of Connaught and Strathearn KG Admiral Sir Aubrey Smith KBE, CB, MVO Vice-Admiral Cedric Swinton Holland CB Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Troubridge KCB, DSO Vice-Admiral Sir William Tennant KCB, CBE, MVO Admiral Sir William Davis GCB, DSO, DL Admiral Sir William O’Brien KCB, DSC Admiral Sir Anthony Morton GBE, KCB Admiral Sir Brian Brown KCB, CBE Vice-Admiral The Hon. Sir Nicholas Hill-Norton KCB Surgeon Vice-Admiral Ian Jenkins CB, CVO Captain Duncan Glass OBE, MNM Vice Admiral Peter John Wilkinson CB, CVO, BA

Deputy Chairmen First (1917-1932)

Captain Sir Arthur Wellesley Clarke KCVO, KBE

Current (since 2014)

Captain Roger Barker MNM

Director General Since 2002

Commodore Barry Bryant CVO, RN

Seafarers UK is a charity that has been helping people in the maritime community for 100 years, by providing vital funding to support seafarers in need and their families. We do this by giving money to organisations and projects that make a real difference to people’s lives, across the Merchant Navy, Fishing Fleets, Royal Navy and Royal Marines.

Seafarers UK 8 Hatherley Street, London, SW1P 2QT T 020 7932 0000 E seafarers@seafarers.uk W www.seafarers.uk @Seafarers_UK SeafarersUK Seafarers UK (King George’s Fund for Sailors) is a Registered Charity, No. 226446 in England and Wales, incorporated under Royal Charter. Registered in Scotland, No. SC038191. Registered Office: 8 Hatherley Street, London, SW1P 2QT

This publication has been produced by Acceleris, in partnership with Seafarers UK, Rebus Design and Platinum HPL

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Seafarers UK Centenary Brochure  

Seafarers UK Centenary Brochure  


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