October and Christmas is on the way!

Yes, the year has zipped by and we have started our Christmas Parcel wrapping. It is a great joy to bless the thousands of seafarers that visit Aberdeen every year and especially at Christmas when our volunteers wrap up some 3,000 parcels to give out. 

If you fancy joining us, then come tonight (10th) between 1800 and 2200 or Wednesday (11th), midday to 1500 and Thursday (12th) between 1800 and 2200.

We have been able to buy the various items to put into the parcels thanks to two very helpful companies…

Personal items, with the help of Rob Heaney, were purchased from… personalproducts.co.uk.

The other gifts that go inside the woolly hats were provided by Promo-solved,  www.promo-solved.co.uk Many thanks to Sam for all your support and help… I cannot show you pictures of the items as it would spoil the surprise for my seafarers!! :o)   

             An entertaining afternoon!

The routine and not so routine continues to keep me busy. I’ve had a wedding to conduct, visits to hospital and at home and several speaking engagements recently; one at St Nicholas Probus, (pictured) then Newtonhill Ladies Group and the other was to Alford History Group! 

I spent a morning in Montrose with my good friend and colleague, Peter Donald. I had hoped to see another old friend, a captain, but the vessel he was on ended up at anchor and we never managed to meet up. A little glimpse of how frustrating it can be for seafarers and their families when leave arrangements change at short notice?

         Internet and Pool being well used!

I have also been dealing with a number of seafarers who have been going through difficult times – marriage breakdowns; loss of jobs; illnesses… the welfare needs of seafarers are never far away. 

The Centre continues to be well used and seafarers do enjoy the facilities we offer – all for free! 

                           Cooking time?

Of course, the Malaviya Seven continues to occupy my time. I had the joy of taking them shopping – £1k of food for them. It was fun to see them cooking the next day! 

We continue to await the auctioning of the vessel that will hopefully see the crew receive their due wages and bring this long saga to an end!

                      Ouch!

On a personal level, I injured myself when I visited ASDA – and the automatic door stopped opening as I walked through – well actually, into it! As can be seen in the picture, I was left with a sore nose! What was most worrying was the fact that when the staff put out a call for a first aider to attend, it took over 8 minutes for the person to arrive! Good job I didn’t have a heart attack! Disappointing service from ASDA at the Beach Boulevard! 

The remainder of this week is going to be as busy as ever and then I will be heading off to London on Sunday for a few days to attend the Supporting Seafarers Conference which will be very interesting for sure.

I best close for now… until the next time!

Blessings,

Howard ><>

 

 

Celebration Time!

I mentioned that I was heading off to the Lord Provost’s’ Office at the end of my last blog, saying all would be revealed… and it will…

But first, a trip to the Nautical Institute’s branch meeting for three of the officers at the Shell Club. 

Myself, Capt Ashish, Chief Officer, Bamadev and 2nd officer, Rahul enjoying a light refreshment before the meeting!

Some small gifts for the leaving crew…

The long saga for the crew on the Malaviya Seven continues. However, a significant step has been taken…  so another celebration?

In the very early hours of Thursday morning, (21st) six of the crew were making their way to the airport… heading for home!

Sadly, that meant that six crew members had to remain, but at least their hope was restored that an end is in sight – once the vessel is sold by auction. Meanwhile, Aberdeen Seafarers Centre continues to provide the remaining crew fuel and food!

Checking in…

As can be seen in the following pictures, there were plenty of smiles at the airport:

Six Happy Seafarer

It was very sad to see them leave… yet no doubt they will be glad to leave! Mixed feelings from all – our volunteers have built up very good relationships with the crew and see them as friends. Indeed one of our volunteers will be booking tickets to spend Christmas with her new ‘family!’ Afterwards, we headed back to the vessel for a cuppa at 0600 and spend time assuring those who remain would continue to be supported and cared for by all at Aberdeen Seafarers Centre and the many other good folks in Aberdeen supporting the crew.

Now, back to the Lord Provost… 

Readers of my blog will already know that our wonderful volunteers had been awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. I was delighted that the Lord Provost, Barney Crockett, agreed to present them with individual certificates when he visited the Centre last Friday (22nd).

It was a great evening and our Lord provost presented a framed certificate from HM the Queen and spoke well of the value of volunteering  and support that Aberdeen Seafarers gives to the thousands of visitors to our city by sea.

Outside presentation

After the presentation, everyone was treated to a fish supper from the amazing Ashvale with everyone fed like a king!

 

A Winning Team!

We also included the six remaining crew members of the Malaviya Seven…  on the left of the picture!

The volunteers received not only a personal certificate, but also a QAVS pin badge and a new Polo Shirt with the Centre Logo and QAVS logo on it. 

So, if you would like to join the team of volunteers, then please do get in touch and we can make use of your skills!

Three models? Not likely!

The following day I spent at the Treetops Hotel with a stand at the Aberdeen Modelling Club competition where we were given a charity stand.

It was good to have several volunteers man the stand – and the models themselves (of ships, oil rigs and other objects) were spectacular! 

Coming up…

Yes, it is time to commence the annual Christmas Parcel Wrapping! 

This will begin on Thursday the 5th of October at 1800 until 2200 at the Seafarers Centre. 

Thereafter, on the following days/times:

Monday 9th between 1200 and 1500

Tuesday 10th between 1800 and 2200

Wednesday the 11th between 1200 and 1500

Thursday the 12th between 1800 and 2200

Some of last years volunteers!

Please do join us for some fun as we prepare the parcels for 3000 visiting seafarers to Aberdeen during December.

We actually start to distribute them in October to fit in with the crew changes overseas!

The Sea Shed is about to start in earnest – we have secured funding and the first 10 to sign up can have the use of an iPad when at the Centre and it may be possible to take them home too… Still finalising things and I am hopeful of getting Apple Technicians to come and do the initial training for those having them.

Please do get in touch if you would like to put your name down. (or know of a seafarer who would be interested to come along. We will be meeting on the first Friday each month and training should happen on the 1st of December.  The official Launch will hopefully be on the 5th of January 2018…

I’m looking for a logo for the Sea-Shed – any budding graphic artists out there who could help?

Right, I must stop for now… more to follow… 

Blessings,

Howard ><>

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Busy Time…

After the highs of the visit to the Peterhead FC v Annan Athletic and the ROV Christening, it was back to normal routine, not only for the Crew of the Malaviya Seven, but for me also. 

Plenty happening as ever, here is a sample of what I’ve been up to.

Besides the routine ship visits, I have had yet more speaking engagements around Aberdeen and beyond. A speaking engagement in Inverurie was a good visit – my third to these fine ladies who pray for me and knit woolly hats! 

I attended a meeting for Volunteer Coordinators. Very good networking and helpful insights gained. Interestingly, I was one of two men in a group of 20+ ladies! 

I had the privilege of being part of the Christening of Sentinel Marine’s new multi role ERRV, Mariner Sentinel. These are always great occasions and despite the rotten weather, it dried up in time for the ceremony. 

It was a busy Monday… started off with doing a visit to the Mariner Sentinel… great banter with the crew, then in the office doing prep for several things coming up… out to pick up 3 full black bags of woolly hats from the good folks at St Mary’s Episcopal Church, then I meet with the sister of a retired Chief Engineer whose funeral I will be conducting on Wednesday. Back to the center to finish of preparing for the Christening of the Mariner Sentinel – super vessel and great crew! Safe sailing Ivor… then onwards to visit a detained vessel – not the Malaviya Seven!! Yes, another vessel was detained, but thankfully only for 5 days! 

Tuesday was spent in meetings – the main one was the Merchant Navy Welfare Board’s Port Welfare Committee meeting held in Peterhead Port Authority’s office. A good turnout from the north and east with 26 attendees. 

Afterwards I popped into Peterhead FC’s offices to hand in a “THANK YOU” card from the crew of the Malaviya Seven to thank them for everything they did. There was a fair bit of banter and I did say that if I lived in Peterhead then I would come to their home games… and was told “You’ll have to pay!” 

I then attended the commissioning service for the Peterhead Fishermens’ Missions new facilities. Excellent facilities – which merchant seafarers can use as well! 

In the evening, I spent some quality time with my two friends, Drew and Peter, Chaplains for the Sailors Society. A lot of discussions were had about the way forward for Chaplaincy and other seafaring matters – and we had a great meal together followed by excellent coffee at Costa’s. Thereafter, I was taken to two hostelries where I enjoyed two half pints of fresh orange and lemonade! 

Wednesday I spent more time with drew before I finalised the service for the funeral of the Chief Engineer at 1300. 

Wednesday evening saw me in the Seafarers Centre at 2000 after a call from folks asking why the centre was closed! My volunteer obviously left early before the 2200 closing time? It’s handy living only a couple of minutes from the centre. Four more visitors came in that night – and it was raining too. I can but imagine the disappointment of these seafarers who had walked in the rain from their vessel to get access to our free facilities… 

We are always looking for more volunteers who can commit to manning the Centre. We especially need a new Key  Holder to volunteer one night a week…

If you would like to join our team of volunteers, do get in touch for more details.

Thursday was as busy as the previous days had been. Of course it was the day of the court hearing re the sale of the Malaviya Seven. I could not attend as I had four meetings arranged long ago that I could not get out of. I obviously head the outcome – good news for the lads and the ITF as the sale of the vessel has been agreed and half of the crew can go home. They found out on Monday when that would be – this Thursday (21st) with flights booked for six of the crew. It was well covered in the media – here is just one link to the news story:

BBC NEWS – M7

But the sale still has to happen and we await the outcome of this. Best guesstimate so far has been that it will be 8-10 weeks in completing everything and the remaining six will then head home, thereafter will the crew get their rightful wages.

After they go home, they will continue to need support… emotionally and psychologically, the events of the past 12-18 months will have impacted them in ways that they may not yet realise.

On one of my regular visits I was asked to have some food, I declined as my digestive system doesn’t cope well with their curries, but I was stumped when a sandwich from M&S was produced so I sat with Bamadev, the Chief Officer to enjoy his company!

Meanwhile, Aberdeen Seafarers Centre had to provide more fuel and an aviation fuel tank was sourced (for free) to store fuel shortening the delivery of fuel from the ship’s tanks, separators and purifiers directly to the generator this saving around 25% of fuel costs. 

A big thanks to Ffolkes Offshore for organising all this and not charging a penny for doing it!

I also ordered some more water… although the vessels water purifier system has given up and is too costly to replace (made in India) and repair is not possible. 

So it is ‘Party Time’ for six of the crew!

Good News!

However, for all those who have been heavily involved in caring for their welfare face the ‘loss’ of our good friends! Mixed emotions…

Hopefully we can do something on Wednesday before they set off home on the Thursday… 

I  popped into one of the companies that have been very generous in supporting the Malaviya Seven appeal (You can still Donate to M7 Appeal) and I visited a retired seafarer, before meeting with various seafarers at the Centre – one out of work seafarer who needed help with the necessities of life! 

On Friday I began to order items for the Christmas Parcel Wrapping… yes, already! Wrapping will commence on the 5th of October at 1800… put the date in your diary! More dates will be given later. 

The sun has got its hat on!

Now it is Tuesday and I have been on the Malaviya Seven this morning – interesting to have a cup of tea with them as they enjoyed their version of an English Breakfast! It was good to see them laughing and some sitting on the deck in the sunshine!

I started this last week, and if I do not close now… it probably will be next week before I finish!

Off to the Lord Provost’s office… all will be revealed later!!

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Blessings,

Howard ><> 

 

 

What a Month that was!

Well I am sorry to have been so long in updating this blog… life has been busy and I had been on holiday for my son’s wedding, but more about that later…

The all-consuming news has been the ongoing plight of the crew on the Malaviya Seven. It is a longstanding situation that has impacted my whole ministry. 

It has been heartening to see how much support there has been from the local community as well as those connected with the maritime community and the Seafarers Centre, way too many to mention individually. Sadly, despite the headlines in local newspapers, their ordeal is not yet over. 

              Not Quite right!
          If only that was true!

 

 

 

 

 

Sadly, the process could take a further 3 months…

Meanwhile we continue to endeavour to keep the crew morale up by various means – the supply of phone cards every month, outings to football matches and many other activities that help to keep them occupied. Below are just a few of the many pictures taken. They can speak for themselves:

                  Let the Parade begin!

 

The annual Celebrate Aberdeen Parade where the crew joined in the fun marching down Union Street with the ‘Third Sector’ organisations.

 

               Meeting the Lord Provost!

 

When we reached the end of the parade we were met by the Lord Provost who had previously met the crew on the vessel.

 

            The Menu – in Hindi no less!

We went to Peterhead FC as their guests and the crew were treated like kings with a 3-course meal before watching the game. They even out the menu in Hindi for them – nice touch. 

 

          The Club Chaplain!

Our host for the day was the club Chaplain, and a friend of mine from the Apex Church.He was an excellent host and even got me in to speak with the manager before the game! I did say that the 15 visitors would bring a good result after two defeats!! 

                Fun with the club mascot!

The crew having their pictures taken with the club mascot – ten out of ten for his/her endurance as countless pictures were taken.

      With some of the team after the match

Their reward was meeting the players after the match – again posing for pictures!

The result? Peterhead won 2-0 and went through to the next round… 

  Headline in Nautilus Telegraph!

This months copy of the Telegraph had the front page highlight their plight and insisting that it must not be allowed to happen again…

Sadly, this is happening around the world… with the ITF indicating that 30% of seafarers worldwide are not being paid their full wages. To many folks ashore seafarers are the forgotten workforce. 

Aberdeen Seafarers Centre has been supplying the crew with Food and Fuel and it looks like we will take a financial hot this year with a projected loss of £20,000. 

We are grateful to those who have given already, but if you would like to help, you can give using this link: 

PLEASE DONATE NOW VIA JUST GIVING 

We have been given an aviation fuel tank to store the fuel to supply the deck generator directly which should save around 20% of fuel usage. Every little helps!

And in other news… 

Yes, the M7 situation has taken up a lot of my time, however I have been busy doing other things as well…

I have been out doing a fair bit of speaking… at rotary, guilds, and today at Old Torry… all great fun and gives me the opportunity to highlight the varied work done through the Seafarers Centre.

  ETPM’s Birthday Cake… yummy!

Last Thursday I had the privilege of conducting a first for me and a first for Aberdeen!! It was the 10th ‘birthday’ of a company that started back in 2007 in Waterloo Quay Properties where I had my office when I was with the Sailors Society.

They had a function at the Silver Darling and I had the privilege of Christening TWO ROV’s!

Afterwards, an impromptu game of ‘Heads or Tails’ resulted in a fantastic donation to our Malaviya Seven appeal of £1,000.

Thank you to all who donated so generously! It was a great evening and a big thanks to Jeff Mountain who heads up ETPM.

On a personal note, our eldest son got married when we were on holiday – in Manchester!!! It was a fantastic day and everyone had a great time as the pictures below show…

               The wedding venue
                      Let the fun begin!!
                  The happy couple!
Cutting the amazing wedding cake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

        Now that really is a dent…

Poor Byron had a fall in our holiday home… he certainly left his mark! (see above right picture)

Thankfully there was no lasting damage and it didn’t prevent him taking full part in the wedding, during the ceremony and at the reception! 

All in all, it was a great day!

Well done to all Tilly and Phil’s friends who did all the hard work setting up the venue and a thousand and one thing besides – especially the catering crew who did a fantastic job and did my waistline no good at all! :o)

Life at the Centre remains busy. Our volunteers have just completed a First Aid course; next week they will be doing a Fire Marshalling course and on the 22nd, they will be being presented with their certificates for the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service by the Lord Provost! 

So many other things are going on, but I will close with a picture of the lads using both pool tables which remain very popular!

             Both Pool tables being used

Best wishes,

Howard ><>

Hello, I’m back, I’m back, I’m on the right track!!!

Well that was a line in a popular song back in the days when I was a DJ circa 1973…

I’ve missed the whole of July due to illness… even ended up in accident and emergency and ended up on morphine and several other powerful drugs such that I was off my face! I got an extended bout of severe sciatica. I don’t recommend it! Anyway, I am back full-time and had some great visits to seven vessels yesterday.

         Fire, Fire!! Well that is a first!

I had a good visit on one vessel where I was given a tour of the vessel and my eyes saw something I had never seen on a PSV before… you would be surprised too – can you see it on the picture?

On this vessel they had some excess food stores and asked if I could pass them onto the lads on the Malaviya Seven. This I happily did much to their delight as can be seen in the pictures below.

Thankful crew on M7 receiving food!
Just the job – “bees to the honey pot?”

You may be surprised to read that the crew of the detained vessel, now in port since June 2016 and no pay since the end of September, are still here! The the issue went going to court on the 27th of July and amazingly, despite GOL offshore going into liquidation in May, the Indian Bank who owns the mortgage stepped in at the last moment asking for a delay to prepare a case… This was granted for two weeks so on the 10th of this month its back to court! 

Of course, much has been going on as we seek to support the vessel, from providing stores, to fuel – twice – and water, we endeavour to ensure that the crew are looked after. 

The local newspaper did a little article on them which is opposite.

Yummy, yummy, food and good company!

One of our volunteers has done a lot for the crew and I have mentioned her in previous blogs… She really is an angel! She took the crew for a meal (I was invited to join them, but I was flat on my back at the time!) It would seem that they had a great time! It also gave the cook the evening off! 

A while back I reported on our visit to the cinema with the guys to watch Spiderman. I was given a picture of a few of us – they certainly are not camera-shy!! 

I was then embarrassed when I returned to work when they presented me with a home made ‘Thank You’ card!

Life at the centre continued in my absence and it is to the credit of our wonderful volunteers that it remained open throughout my illness. No wonder they received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, well deserved one and all! Please do get in touch if you would like to volunteer – there are many ways you can help so don’t be shy!

Home sweet home!

One seafarer made good use of our facilities as you can see. “It is good to get a little bit of home when away for so long from family. There are no home comforts on our ship and the couch is great to relax on.” (He even took his socks and shoes off!)

Numbers continue to grow year on year… and we are we are pleased that the facility continues to be well used!

Hospital and home visits continue and there always seems to be one more thing to do… I am so privileged to be part of this wonderful ministry to seafarers! 

There is more planned – the annual Celebrate Aberdeen parade will be on Saturday the 26th of August and you would be most welcome to join us for that!

The Lord Provost is going to be presenting our volunteers with their certificates for the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – date yet to be confirmed!

On the 1st of September there will be a launch of the SEA-SHED! You probably are wondering what on earth is that? Let me explain my reason for setting it up. It is quite simple really… I have been meeting seafarers since 2001 in Aberdeen. Sadly, most of the elderly ones that live in Aberdeen I meet for the first time – at the crematorium! This is sad as we have so much we can offer them by way of friendship and support. Data Protection rules mean that I cannot get information about those who retire. So, I thought, why not have a ‘club’ for seafarers!

A Sea-Shed is a place where Seafarers feel at home and can pursue practical interests with a high degree of autonomy. A Sea-Shed offers this to a group of seafarers who share experiences, knowledge and resources they need to enhance their lives in a safe, friendly and inclusive venue. 

They are places of skill-sharing and informal learning, of individual pursuits and community projects, of purpose, achievement and social interaction. Above all, it is a place of leisure where seafarers come together to enjoy the friendship of the sea.

A Sea-Shed’s activities usually involve talking, discovering, learning and laughing! Although a Sea-Shed will mostly attract older seafarers, it may include younger folks who have been to see. Whichever activities are pursued the essence of a Shed is not a building, but the network of relationships between the members.

It could include many different things, but will include the development of IT skills with iPads being provided to use at the Shed for free; guest speakers; outings; tea/coffee and tabnabs; and plenty of fun and laughter!

If you are, or know of anyone in the Aberdeen area who would like to come along, then please do let them know – doors will be open at 1000 and will last to around 1300 with a light lunch being provided. 

Away from the harbour, I have become a grandfather again with the birth of Rachel Elinor in July. Last sunday we had a family lunch and it was lovely to have 10 of us around the table. The two cousins and mums are in the picture above… and Byron held Daniel for the first time – his expression is priceless! Happy days!

Well, that is about all for now… Hope that you are enjoying your day!

Blessings,

Howard ><>