News

New seafarers centre at King's Lynn

17th November 2014
Bishop Alan Hopes, Bishop of East Anglia has opened a new seafarers’ centre at King’s Lynn port in East Anglia. The facility was the brainchild of our Felixstowe, Harwich & Ipswich port chaplain Sr Marian Davey.
                  With the launch, crew arriving at King’s Lynn port, owned by Associated British Port’s (ABP), now have a place to call their own. Initiated by AoS and largely funded by the Merchant Navy Welfare Board (MNWB), the facility offers visiting seafarers a dedicated space to relax and communicate with their families back home.
                  
Sr. Marian Davey said; “It is the first time in the port’s recent history that a space has been set aside specifically for seafarers to use. “This is a big first. Up till now, crew had to go into town to buy top-up cards to be able to contact home. Now they have free use of Wi-Fi and internet at the centre because AoS is paying for that cost.” 
                  The centre was formally opened by Bishop Alan Hopes, Bishop of East Anglia and Bob Jones, chairman of the MNWB.
                 
It will be a place where seafarers can chat with the port chaplain and volunteers as well as access the internet to communicate with friends and families after months at sea. 

Bishop Alan Hopes with Aos national director Martin Foley and MNWB chairman Bob Jones
Bishop Alan, with AoS national director Martin Foley and Bob Jones. Photo copyright JC Barrett LRPS
                  With ships usually docking for no more than 24 hours, crews are often unable to leave the port. This facility will provide much needed respite and act as a base for AoS teams to support crew members in any way required, such as: 
                  
Providing seafarers with the opportunity to contact friends and family,
                  • Looking after seafarers who are abandoned in port, those who are sick or injured, and;
                  • Helping seafarers attend church services or praying with a crew following a fatality, if requested by the seafarers themselves. 
                  Alastair McFarlane, Port Manager East Anglia said; “We owe a great deal of gratitude to the brave men and women who operate the vessels that keep this nation supplied. So we are really proud to be part of delivering this vital service to crew visiting the port of King’s Lynn. Seafarers spend a lot of time on board their ships and with this service we can offer them a home away from home.”
                  
Sr. Marian added that she was grateful to ABP - the owner and operator of King’s Lynn port - for offering AoS a prime site at a very good location in the port for the seafarers’ centre. 
                  “The location is excellent and works well for seafarers coming off ships. Everyone at ABP, from management and staff to the shipping agents, has been encouraging and supportive, and measures are in place to ensure that seafarers coming ashore have all the information they need about the AoS centre,” she said.
                  Sr Marian was also interviewed by BBC Radio Norfolk about the opening of the centre. You can listen to it by going to 
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02bghzm . Scroll to 1:52:40 for the start of the interview.

Sr Marian and a seafarer using the internet at the AoS seafarers' centre in King's Lynn
Sr Marian with a seafarer at the centre. Photo copyright JC Barrett LRPS