South Shields Merchant Navy Day service sees generations come together to honour seafarers past and present
Retired merchant seamen, young sea cadets and family members attended a Merchant Navy Day service at the Mission to Seafarers chapel in South Shields on Saturday, September 3.
It was followed by the laying of wreaths at the nearby Merchant Navy memorial.
Fay Cunningham, Honorary Secretary to the Mission to Seafarers, said the day is very important to the town, which has sent thousands of seafarers to sea over the years.
She added: “More merchant seafarers come from South Shields than anywhere in Britain.”
They included more than 3,000 who left South Tyneside during the First and Second World War never to return.
Led by minister Jacki Dunn, chaplain of the Mission to Seafarers, the service was attended by many retired merchant seamen.
But the younger generation was also well represented with cadets from TS (training ship) Collingwood South Shields, and officials from South Shields Marine School.
Captain Terry Moody from the school said: “South Shields is a marine town and is also home to the marine school which is world famous for training seafarers from all around the world.
"Events like this are important, as you can see from the turnout of both young and old.”
The day was also supported by dignitaries including Mayor of South Tyneside, Cllr Pat Hay, who read the Seafarers Psalm and laid a wreath on behalf of South Tyneside.
Council leader Cllr Tracey Dixon added it was a privilege to be there to honour seafarers past and present.
Jim Donathy, 81, a retired chief electrical officer from Jarrow, has attended every year since coming ashore in 2004.
He said: “I think today is very important because we are the lucky ones, we made it back. Lots of lads and women didn’t.
"I think the least you can do is show a bit of appreciation.”
Alan Brown, 79, also from Jarrow, who served in the merchant navy in the 1960s, added: “It should be like Remembrance Sunday, they should never be allowed to slip away.”
Fay was delighted with the day, and added: “I’m really pleased. This town never forgets.
"It was great to see representatives from our marine school, TS Collingwood sea cadets and also great to have the mayor here in her robes.”