A very special centenary
In the City of London this month, a celebration dinner will be held to mark the centenary of the Seafarers UK, known to many of us as the King George V Fund for Sailors.
It was at a meeting in London 100 years ago that the first discussions were held to focus on the help needed for the sailors injured or lost at sea and their families as a result of World War I. The need for such support was reinforced during World War II with the sailors of the Royal Navy, Merchant Navy and UK fishing fleets all in action - either in direct warfare or to keep vital shipping and trade routes open.
The work that Seafarers UK do is admirable, helping those in most need, as a result of injuries, loneliness or depression linked to their career at sea. The centenary is a time to pay tribute to the charity for its dedicated work over the last 100 years, but also to express a nation’s gratitude for its seafarers and the continuing (but often unrecognised) vital role they play in sustaining the UK.
A centenary dinner was also due to be held in Liverpool after this edition of Sea Breezes went to print, with the Rt Hon Lord Prescott in attendance. Although he was often a controversial figure in UK politics, very few Parliamentarians of recent times have understood the importance of the shipping sector in the way that Lord Prescott does. During his time in Parliament, he represented the maritime constituency of Hull and, before moving into a full time career in politics, he worked as a steward for the famous Cunard Line.
Sea Breezes sends its best wishes to Seafarers UK for a very successful centenary year and hopes that those involved with the charity – in the past, present and future – receive the recognition they deserve.
There is another important centenary this month. The encounter between New Zealand Shipping Company’s SS Otaki and the German raider Moewe occurred in March 1917. Read ‘The Otaki Story’ in this edition of Sea Breezes on pages 30-33 and details of the commemorative services on page 26.
HAMISH ROSS, EDITOR