Red Ensign Flag raised to say ‘Thank You Seafarers’ on Merchant Navy Day

Somerset County Council proudly joined a host of Local Authorities across the country today (Thursday 3 September) in raising the Red Ensign flag to thank our many seafarers.

Supporting a nationwide call from the Seafarers UK charity and the Merchant Navy Association, the UK Merchant Navy’s official flag, the Red Ensign, is flying on public buildings and landmark flagstaffs across the land today to mark ‘Merchant Navy Day’.

With full endorsement from the Seafarers UK charity’s president, HRH The Earl of Wessex, Somerset County Councillor Christopher Le Hardy and Chelsea White, a representative of the Youth Parliament, raised the Red Ensign outside County Hall at 10am today.

They were joined by a number of invited dignitaries including six members of the Pill & North Somerset branch Merchant Navy Association.

The Council’s Chairman, Cllr Christine Lawrence, and Cllr Derek Yeomans both gave speeches of thanks before Cllr Lawrence invited guests to join her for refreshments after enjoying music sung by the Council’s choir, Canticle.

The event aims to raise awareness of the UK’s on-going dependence on Merchant Navy seafarers, remember the sacrifices they made during wars where they incurred heavy losses whilst endeavouring to supply the nation with valued goods – whilst celebrating the important work they continue to do.

As an ‘island nation’ the UK relies on Merchant Navy seafarers for 95% of its imports, including half the food we eat. The UK has the largest ports industry in Europe, with 75% of our exports shipped from UK ports. Some of which supported the campaign by encouraging visiting ships to sound their horns at 10am today.

It is hoped that Merchant Navy Day, 3 September, becomes a celebrated annual event with Local Authorities and public buildings across the land paying thanks to seafarers on this day.

Cllr Lawrence said: “Somerset County Council is proud and honoured to support Merchant Navy Day. Too often, seafarers are the forgotten or invisible service. By raising the flag today, they are remembered. We depend on our seafarers to defend our shores, trade with other countries and import essential food and fuel. The job of a seafarer is therefore vital, but also demanding and hazardous with a much greater chance of injury than many other professions.”

The Seafarers UK charity’s president, HRH The Earl of Wessex, said: “On this Merchant Navy Day, I very much hope you will support this campaign to remember the sacrifices, salute the courage and support the future of the often unsung personnel of our Merchant Navy.”

Tim Bull, Chairman of the Pill & North Somerset branch Merchant Navy Association said: “Thank you to everyone for attending today. Often the Merchant Navy is forgotten, but today our work has been remembered.”

For further information, please visit www.merchantnavyfund.org/merchant-navy-day

Ends

For further media enquiries, please contact the Press Office on 01823 355020 or email: pressoffice@somerset.gov.uk

National Merchant Navy Day Campaign PR Contact

Nick Harvey, Campaigns Manager, Seafarers UK, phone 020 7932 5969, mobile 07910 593588, email nick.harvey@seafarers-uk.org

Notes for Editors

Photos attached shows Cllr Le Hardy and Chelsea White with invited guests raising the Red Ensign at 10am today.

More than 400 local authorities throughout the UK have been invited by Seafarers UK and the Merchant Navy Association to participate in ‘Fly the Red Ensign for Merchant Navy Day’.

The ‘Fly the Red Ensign for Merchant Navy Day’ Pageantmaster is Bruno Peek LVO OBE OPR, phone 07737 262913, email pageantmaster@mac.com

Merchant Navy Day has been commemorated since 2000 on 3 September, the anniversary of the sinking of the SS Athenia, the first British merchant vessel lost during World War 2.

Seafarers UK is a leading grant-making charity that helps people in the maritime community, by providing vital funding to support seafarers in need and their families. Donations to the charity’s Merchant Navy Fund can be made at http://www.merchantnavyfund.org

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