Tuesday 28th March SAILORS’ SOCIETY by Becky Haldane

Becky on the right with a colleague

Becky Haldane delivered an excellent talk to the Rotary Club of Ayr on the role of the Sailors’ Society in providing much-needed practical and spiritual support to the world’s seafarers. Becky herself is an ordained minister but confessed to having no background in seafaring (other than kayaking!). Nevertheless, it was clear to her attentive audience that she is a “natural” for the job with her obvious empathy and enthusiasm.

Becky began by explaining the origins of the Society, an international Christian charity, founded by “Bo’sun” Smith in 1818 and working in ports around the world. The Society’s chaplains help to support seafarers and their families, of all faiths and none.



She highlighted a number of remarkable statistics about merchant seafarers and seafaring:

* There are 1.6M seafarers across the globe.

* One third of these are Filipinos.

* 90% of our goods come through ports.

* Nine ships are lost at sea every month.

* Port chaplains visit 20,000 ships each year.

Becky then described the kinds of difficulty experienced by seafarers:

* Loneliness and isolation (which paradoxically can be exacerbated by access to the internet).

* Piracy and kidnapping (which is particularly rife on the west African seaboard).

* Storms and other natural disasters (where the Society works alongside experienced relief agencies).

* The unlawful withholding of wages.

The Society’s strap line is “Transforming Seafarers’ Lives” and to this end it assists with the education of seafarers’ children, inter-alia. Those wishing to help the Society can give on-line and/or knit woolly hats for which there is a never-ending demand.

Len Houston gave the vote-of-thanks following which the members showed their appreciation of Becky’s talk by a well-deserved round of applause.