The Seafarers Hospital Society has celebrated its 200th birthday with a virtual tea party, including cake and candles, with leftover cake being distributed to working and retired seafarers at Queen Victoria Seamen’s Rest in London’s East India Dock Road.

Though they were unable to meet in person due to the Covid-19 pandemic, CEO Sandra Welch brought staff and trustees together on Zoom for a cup of tea and a slice of birthday cake to celebrate the milestone. “We wanted to mark the occasion, and what could be better than sharing a birthday cake?” said Sandra. “So we had a cake made locally, and sent individual cupcakes to all our guests. It was a great way to celebrate.”

“Today isn’t just about having fun,” added Peter McEwen, the Seafarers Hospital Society chair. “There’s a more serious message. The society was established in 1821, when merchant seafarers returning from the Napoleonic Wars were dying in the streets of London with no access to medical care.

“That’s where the society came in. We literally picked them up and took care of them, setting up floating hospital ships on the Thames at Greenwich. And although the way we work has changed, the health and wellbeing of seafarers remains at the heart of what we do.”

The Seafarers Hospital Society continues to support seafarers through hard times, providing grants for essential items and access to free health and wellbeing services, it said, and works in close partnership with statutory and voluntary agencies to ensure that help is delivered as quickly as possible.

In 2020, the society awarded over a quarter of a million pounds in grants to 455 seafarers and their families, which included 200 Covid-19-related grants worth just under £100,000. The grants covered disability aids and equipment such as electrically powered vehicles, adapted shower facilities and riser/recliner chairs, as well as essential household goods, clothing, payment of priority debts, urgent living expenses, respite breaks, funeral costs and other pressing welfare requirements.

To find out more about the Seafarers Hospital Society, visit:


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