What’s a few weeks!

Isn’t life interesting? 

No? Can I swap with you then?? Haha!

Seriously, it has been a very full few weeks since I last posted. Much going on at home and at the Seafarers Centre…

Woolly hats from St Stephen’s Church

 

 

 

 

 

 

A donation of clothes and suitcases..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pool tables being well used as ever!

 

 

 

 

 

 

And so is the Harbour!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drew and Peter

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ship visiting with Lynne, Drew and Me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was on the Fugro Searcher and a lot of explaining was being done!

Crocodile bread – fancy a bite??

 

 

 

 

 

A request for Bibles for a Bible study on board! No problem…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of our lady volunteers gave the boys on the Malaviya Seven a valentine rose (chocolate) and card each!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Talking of the Malaviya Seven, I have managed to blag free tickets for the crew to watch Aberdeen FC play Ross County this Saturday! I managed to get them kitted out with team scarves and hats…

Not sure how Ricky got in the picture?

 

 

 

 

What a handsome bunch?

 

 

 

 

 

The boss?

And a home visit…

Koos relaxing at home… with an addition to home?

 

 

 

 

 

Koos has a rescued cat – Paws! He seems to be enjoying relaxing in the sunshine!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So much has been happening and whilst most of it has been routine and happy/good news, there is always something that isn’t so good going on. Good news was that our Book Library Champion, Charlie finally got his hip replacement operation done. All went well and he is on the road to recovery, although it will be a while before he can do book exchanges – for obvious reasons!

We were saddened by the death of  a crew member on an PSV working out of Aberdeen. It was great to see how the companies involved and the various chaplains all worked together to support the crew and the office staff as well. We were asked if the crew could use the Seafarers Centre rather than a hotel buy their MD which we were more than happy to do. I think it worked well and the feedback was very positive. 

This is one of my long term goals – to have a Centre of Excellence for Chaplaincy based in the Centre where chaplains from all sectors could share resources in a common space and be on call 24/7 ready to respond to any and all emergencies. One day…

I was called to assist after a crewman fell in the hold of a cargo vessel that had just sailed from Montrose. I was travelling back from Montrose when I got the call – no I was not visiting the vessel, I was there at the opening of the new facility for seafarers that my good friend Peter runs. Free wifi with 24/7 access via a key-pad. Fortunately the seafarer was ok, but I had to revisit the vessel to help the Captain get the necessary information for hios report. She sailed on to Inverness where she was due to be alongside for 3 days!

Yes, hospital visits continue and meetings abound, along with the lesser of two evils – paperwork and the other evil – accounts! Haha!!)

Now back to home, an update with work in the garden…

Ground cleared for the new shed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some mud to be disposed of…

Starting the insulation…

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then – disaster – the Shed was broken into…

Smashed open door. New security fittings and an alarm have now been fitted!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our fence was sagging…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reposted and shored up with stones… A work in progress!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So as I said, it has been an eventful few weeks. 

I’m looking forward to the Football game on Saturday – I’m sure that there will be plenty of pictures!! 

I best get off here for now as I’m on duty at the Centre tonight – opening shortly!! 

Blessings,

Howard ><>

Did Christmas Really happen?

Yikes, It’s been a while! 

Nothing new there then! Haha!

So much to report on… so let me begin with The build up to and Christmas itself!

We were rushed off our feet in the run up – it’s not easy ensuring that every ship gets their Christmas gifts, but thankfully most did! (if you were one of the vessels that were missed, just get in touch and we shall see what we can do for your return!) I could fill the next section with lots of pictures, but I will only post a few here, with lots more at the end – for those who really want to see them! 

Malaviya Seven Crew getting their gifts!

Some volunteers about to board a vessel!

A lady Seafarer gives Santa a hug!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A rare break for me followed Christmas day and I enjoyed having the whole family round! Happy times opening gifts after a feast cooked by my son and then some good news! Two daughter in laws are to make me a grandfather – one on May, the other in July and then my eldest said he was getting married in August. Wow!

This news was tinged with the sad news that my father in law (82 and living alone just outside Linlithgow) fell on Christmas Day when out walking his dog and was admitted to hospital. it will be a long slow recovery.

My old shed has been demolished and a new one erected and I am in the process of wiring it up – just waiting for the electrician to check it over and connect it to the mains! I still have to insulate and put sheet boarding up then add some shelves and I will have my own shed! My next project is Byron’s bedroom that needs all walls and ceiling stripped, insulated, plasterboard and wiring fitted and then get a plasterer to do a finishing skim. Relaxation? Aye right!

The old shed comes down…

The foundation

Taking shape…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And a new wardrobe for Naomi!

With mirror doors

Meanwhile, back at the port…

Smiling Rahul?

Yes, the harbour has continued to operate and there are still many seafarers who are grateful for the support of Aberdeen Seafarers Centre. The saga continues with the Malaviya Seven. One seafarer on board went through extensive dental treatment. He returned to the vessel with the anesthetic having not worn off and with a skewed smile! He didn’t understand why there was great hilarity amongst the crew until I took this picture!

Sadly, we seem no closer to a resolution to the ongoing issues.

Deflated, but clean??

 I am Chaplain to the local RNLI and I joined them for a Monday evening of training – which amounted to cleaning the station or the inflatable… I chose the station as it was freezing outside! This was followed by good team building over a pizza that was much enjoyed by all!

 

 

 

Above, Peter & Drew. Right, Lynne and Drew get ready to join me for some fun – ship visiting! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Koos relaxing at home!

It is always good to be visiting my seafaring friend Koos. He too has had some bad news – his budgie died… but it wasn’t long before he got another companion… “Paws” a rescued cat! The seem to be having a tough life together… 

It’s a tough life

The numbers of seafarers visiting the centre  has picked up this month compared to January 2016. Here’s hoping it is a sign for the coming year!

We have also been blessed with a number of new volunteers – welcome to the team! We trust that you will have lots of fun as you seek to enhance the wellbeing of all seafarers who visit the port.

Well, enough for now… I need to send out the Filipino News to my friends and then get off this computer!

I’ll write again soon!

Blessings,

 

Howard ><> 

And a few Christmas day pictures…

It’s Almost Christmas!

Yep, no doubt you are all rushing around visiting shops, buying items online desperately hoping to get that special something or perhaps you are just panicking now!! 

Meanwhile, seafarers are stuck onboard, being many miles from home, their families and friends. Many will be at sea on Christmas Day, but a few of the 1.5 million seafarers will be lucky enough to be in port.

Aberdeen Seafarers Centre has been distributing Christmas gifts to vessels in port for the past 5 years and since 2001, it’s Superintendent, Howard, has been doing this. It all started with a couple of hundred parcels wrapped in our living room with my wife and kids helping and has grown over the years to some 3,000 parcels wrapped in September/October by over 50 volunteers! We have given out over 1,500 so far this month!

It’s a small gift of a woolly hat, knitted by ladies up and down the country throughout the year, each stuffed with various items useful to seafarers. They are really grateful for them.  

We have much to be thankful for too… our homes, our families, our health and so many good things that we so often take for granted. 

That is why I enjoy each day, laugh often and try to bless others as often as I can. 

As an ex seafarer, I well remember the sacrifices made by many good people who helped me even though they did not know me! Now some 30 plus years on, I endeavour to bless those whom I don’t know and bring a little cheer this Christmas to the many thousands of seafarers that will visit Aberdeen. 

I cannot do this on my own and the Seafarers Centre needs help from our team of dedicated volunteers. If you live in Aberdeen, why not consider joining the team and have some fun in pleasant surroundings to bless those who transport 95% of the goods we consume in the UK? Fire me an email and we can meet up for a coffee and a chat!

Now for some updates on what has been happening at the Centre and at home!

I was part of the Christening ceremony for the Portland Sentinel – always a fun time as we commend the vessel and more importantly, the crew who sail her, to the Lord’s care and protection.

Having a chat with a seafarer

 

Sometimes it is just good to talk as this Indian seafarers did – it had been a few years since we last saw each other so much to catch up on! 

 

 

 

 

Seafarers Decorating the Centre

 

Some of the crew from the Malaviya Seven helping to put up our Christmas decorations!

 

 

 

 

Two of the many Woolly Hat knitters who donated so many gifts for seafarers! Thank You!

 

 

They also donated lots of toiletries, woolly hats, stationary and personal hygiene items – a big THANK YOU to one and all.

 

 

 

 

Cook in Lidl for some shopping

 

 

The cook and his two assistants off the Big Orange 18 getting supplies in Lidl

 

 

 

 

Fire Marshalling certificate

 

Eight of our volunteers underwent Fire Marshalling training and here are their certificates to prove it! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our newest ship visitor – Graham on left!

 

Graham has taken to the task well and is enjoying it – not sure why both have crossed arms though?

 

 

 

 

And onto an update with the work at home…

Painting going well…

 

 

The bare walls had two coats of white before the walls were given a Jasmine White coat!  

 

 

 

 

 

That’s better!

Need any stones? Free to collect!

We’re almost there!

 

All we need now is to buy my Man-Shed!

Open to recommendations! 

 

 

 

So much more has happened, but as usual, I have just been too busy to update my page! 

I don’t anticipate updating again until after our Christmas Day ship visits – it may even be the New Year… we shall see. 

Below is our card from the Seafarers Centre to all its supporters. With my new administrator in place, I hope to be better organised for next year! I have asked her to call those in my contact list so please do not be surprised to get a call or an email from “ascreception1@gmail.com” although I am hoping to sort out our whole email system early in the New Year – again, time will tell…  If you are reading this and are not on my contacts list and want to be added – just email Stacey at ascreception1@gmail.com 

So I will draw this to a close and wish you a meaningful festive season, filled with happiness and joy that comes with the Good News that God’s gift of Christ brings to all mankind.

Merry Christmas,

Howard ><>

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just another Monday…

Or is it? 

We all look for the exciting, for something new or a special event. This, in my experience, rarely happens!

Last week was another week with more amazing and fantastic highlights to share… and some ordinary things too!

But first, looking back, here is a picture of my earlier visit to Shmu Radio! 

DJ Howard?

DJ Howard?

This takes me back to the days when I use to do some DJ work with Jasper (not Carrott!) in my late teens at the local community centre and a few pubs and night clubs as well! 

I do not think I will be returning to those days anytime soon, but it was fun to be miked up again and my thanks to Mike and Lady Gadah for having me on their excellent show.

So last week – our exciting news was that it was a fairly routine week! However, there were a couple of exceptions.

Not so Good News.

We can no longer recycle toner cartridges. The last ones we sent (a Euro pallet) raised just £24.50. This makes it unviable to store all the toners for 3 months and then shipping them to the recycling company. I am really thankful for the great support that Seletar Logistics an Thistle Couriers have given on supporting these efforts, but as I said, it just wasn’t worth doing anymore.    

Good News! 

We were able to sell the 82 new toner cartridges we received that were going in the skip. One of my volunteers, Cara, did all the hard work and got a terrific price for them! Anyone want to guess how much we received? This is dangerous, but the closest guess to reach me by my next post will get a free Aberdeen Seafarers Centre baseball cap. 

So if your company changed their laser printers and you have unused toners, donating them to Aberdeen Seafarers Centre can raise a significant chunk of cash to support seafarers. 

Ordinary News!

seacabThere has been the routine stuff going on and plenty of happy moments! Ship visits continue and a bit of banter with the lads who had just been transported by Ricky Greenhowe on the Sea Cab from their vessel anchored in the bay on their way home. He took this picture.

It was wonderful to be onboard the Malaviya Seven when the RC Bishop of Aberdeen along with Port Chaplain Doug Duncan visited.  I’ll update with pictures when I get them from Doug’s photographer in due course. After half an hour of good banter in the mess with the whole crew, I left them to enjoy lunch onboard followed by a service conducted by the Bishop.

Our Administrator is settling in well and is a real help to me. How did I survive for so long without her! 

Several useful meetings took place last week and it is always good to be welcomed by the staff of the various companies that support Aberdeen Seafarers Centre on an ongoing basis. Keep up the good work! It has been another tough year for them as well as seafarers in general and listening to their views over a coffee is never wasted time and helps to keep things in perspective. If I haven’t visited recently – get in touch – always happy to give an update of what is happening at the Seafarers Centre!

Home visits too…I spent over 2 hours with one widow of a retired seafarer  told me that I had made her day. “He used to talk about the sea too and the family don’t know that side of him. Talking with you made it better,” she said to me.

We are here for all seafarers – those intending to go to sea, those at sea and those retired from the sea – along with their families too! Do get in touch of you know someone who might appreciate a visit for a chat… sadly, in these PC days, I no longer get referrals from hospital or other agencies and as I have said many times, I do get frustrated at meeting many retired seafarers for the first time at the crematorium when it is too late to help them. 

There are a lot of vessels at anchor just now – 11 listed on the harbour website, but there are many others outwith the harbour limits – well over 20… signs of the continuing poor market conditions. Surely 2017 will see some improvements? We live in hope!

We received the certificates for those volunteers who completed the Fire Marshalling training course… so any seafarers visiting will be safely escorted out of the building in the unlikely event of their being a fire!

If you would like to volunteer one day a month for a few hours, please do get in touch and we can chat over a coffee and see what you can do to enhance the welfare of all seafarers. 

Back to some paperwork now – working on a business plan; sorting out publicity for the Sea-Shed and arranging finances (90% agreed) and other necessary things associated with the running of the Seafarers Centre. 

I best get on… hope you have a totally amazing week – or just an ordinary one! 

With every good wish

Howard ><>

FOOTNOTE:

As promised, here are the pictures of the visit to the Malaviya Seven along with an article in the Energy Voice

 

The Malaviya Seven

The Malaviya Seven

On the Bridge

On the Bridge

Bishop Hugh Gilbert with the stranded crew of Malaviya Seven

Written by Jon Hebditch –

 

 

A group of Indian sailors, who have been stranded in the north-east for more than five months, have received a special blessing from the Bishop of Aberdeen.

The Malaviya Seven, a supply boat owned by Indian company GOL Offshore, was originally stopped in June after claims that staff had not received their wages for months while working in the North Sea.

The Mumbai-registered vessel, which was chartered by BP in the first half of June, was allowed to leave the harbour in August after a pay deal was settled.

But it returned to the Granite City last month and was detained again by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

Life aboard the ship for the Indian sailors has proved increasingly dreary with precious few home comforts at their disposal.

But in response, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Aberdeen Hugh Gilbert OSB, working with the Apostleship of the Sea charity, paid a special visit to the suffering seamen.

In the Messroom

And in the Messroom

The Bishop said: “Our port chaplain, Doug Duncan of the Apostleship of the Sea, arranged for me to visit the vessel. It was a pleasure to meet and talk with the crew, bless the vessel and share a meal on board.

“Though the situation will remain tense until justice has been done, it was clear the efforts of the Apostleship of the Sea and others on behalf of the crew were much appreciated. Gratitude and good humour were evident.”

The charity has been supporting them in various ways, including providing warm clothing with jackets and fleeces being provided by parishioners throughout the diocese.

Toiletries have also been provided by staff of the Stroke Unit in the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI).

Mr Duncan said: “It’s an anxious and stressful time for the crew, but having someone from AoS they know and trust to support them makes a difference.

“The AoS have made all crew members feel part of their family during this difficult time, where they have enjoyed visits out of the port environment, and also attended the Russian Choir performance in St Peters in Aberdeen and the crowning of the statue.

“At present, the crew have enough water, fuel for heating and food on board the vessel.

“Hopefully, we are nearing a solution to this dreadful experience.”

 

Aberdeen Seafarers Centre has been heavily involved for many years in the welfare of the crew, however, with the vessels detentions, the need for our continued support has been heightened and we have sought to be sensitive to their needs, giving supplies of food, milk, toiletries, excursions, free phone cards enabling 500 minutes a month to each crew member to call home to their family and friends, as well as the gift of a week’s salary for the Festival of Diwali.

The crew have made extensive use of the facilities of the Seafarers Centre on a daily basis, including pool, table tennis, books, CD’s and DVD’s, second-hand clothes and of course our free superfast broadband.

But it is those who so generously give to the Centre that enables us to bless these unfortunate seafarers who are in a difficult place through no fault of their own. Without the ongoing support of local Churches, businesses and individuals, we could not continue the vital work we do! Thank you each and every one of you.

Thanks are also due to our team of volunteers who man the Centre, do ship visits and 101 other things that go unseen.  

Time for bed! 

Demolition Time!

I promised in my last blog that I would update you on progress of demolition of the Air Raid Shelter. It has been hard work and I am grateful to two people in particular that have greatly helped with this and to be honest, they’ve done the bulk of the work so far and I am indebted to them for all their help! 

Here are some pictures showing the progress:

My son on top of the world?

My son on top of the world?

Let the hard work commence...

Let the hard work commence…

Making good progress with the roof!

Making good progress with the roof!

Where is the roof gone?

Where has the roof gone?

Breaking the stones!

Breaking the stones!

Still lots to do!

Still lots to do!

Even if we work until the light goes!

Even if we work until the light goes!

We are getting there!

We are getting there!

img_7406-shed

Just one row of stones to reach the foundation!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So a lot has been done… but still lots more to do! I now have to get rid of some rather large stones and then level out the base… Volunteers are always welcome and I can feed you with tea/coffee and cakes!

On the seafarers front, we continue to be busy… much to be thankful for and plenty of  exciting things going on. 

The most noteworthy was my appearance on the local radio, Shmu FM.  If you missed it, the programme is now available to listen to via the ‘listen again’ feature on the programme page where people can listen into it anytime (it will be there until the 24th Nov 16). The link for it is: http://www.shmu.org.uk/fm/shows/so-why-dont-you (and you just click on the ‘listen again’ tab in the blue box on the page). It was such an enjoyable time… just not enough time to mention everything I wanted to talk about!

Best of all, as I came out of the studio, I was approached by Colin who was listening to the show and wants to volunteer… Mike said it was the quickest ever response to a request for volunteers!!

There are many opportunities to volunteer at the Seafarers Centre – do get in touch if you would like more information! You can email me using this link: Email me!

Finally, a ‘heads-up’ that in January I am launching a new club for Retired Seafarers in Aberdeenshire. Whilst it will be aimed at retired seafarers, all seafarers are welcome! The plan is to initially meet once a month on the last Friday morning of each month. (1000-1200-ish!)

It’s name? SEA-SHED! I know that it is a play on the popular and growing “Men’s-Shed” but it will be similar in many ways… but with a Nautical theme. We hope to do IT skills, have various speakers each month and generally have a fun time together. Ultimately it will be driven by the members interests and if requested, could meet more often! 

This will be a FREE event so if you know of (or are) a retired seafarer that lives in the Aberdeen area, please do get in touch. You can email me using this link: Email me!

Enjoy your weekend – I think I will be painting Naomi’s bedroom! 

Blessings,

Howard ><>

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