New UK Maritime Minister speaks first to the industry at Sailors’ Society Carol Service

In his first public address to the maritime industry, the new Maritime Minister, Lord Davies of Gower, told those gathered for Sailors‘ Society’s annual Carol Service that this Christmas we need to “spare a thought for our seafarers, for their contribution, their safety and their wellbeing”. And he said they were “working in the harshest work environment on the planet.”

Lord Davies said that while “Santa will be travelling the globe, many of the presents under the tree will have been brought to us by seafarers, travelling at much slower speeds than Santa and crossing the oceans with fortitude.”

He told representatives of the maritime industry, funders and supporters of the charity that “seafarers face separation from home and we know this has serious implications for mental health and wellbeing”, adding that this is why the work of organisations like Sailors’ Society is so important and why the government was supporting the Mental Health in Maritime pledge.

Thanking the Society for his invitation, Lord Davies said he was delighted to attend the service as this was one of his first public engagements since being appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary in the Department of Transport last month (November).

“I have only been doing this job for a few weeks, so I am delighted to come and speak to you.”

Welcoming the Minister to All Hallows by the Tower, Sara Baade, CEO of Sailors’ Society, told the 170-strong congregation: “I want to thank you, not just for coming here today but for your continued support. Whether this is through a trust and foundation, through other funding or knitting woolly hats for crew, without you we could not do our work supporting the world’s 1.9 million seafarers. So, thank you.”

Among those who read the lesson were Ian Wilkinson, Vice President of Sales Excellence, Inchcape, Tony Carroll, Secretary of The Baltic Exchange Charitable Society, Peter Broadhurst, Senior Vice President, Maritime Safety and Regulatory, Inmarsat and Sailors’ Society Trustee, Catharine Bacon.

The service was taken by the Reverend Sophia Acland and prayers were led by Sailors’ Society Chairman, Peter Swift.

All Hallows is the oldest church in the city of London and survived the great fire of London in 1665. It has close links with the River Thames, the Port of London and shipping world-wide. The church is the home of the Maritime Foundation Memorial Book, which records the names, and where possible the circumstances, of people lost at sea with no known grave.

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