As the nation prepares to observe Remembrance Day, the Royal Merchant Navy Education Foundation (RMNEF) is issuing a reminder to the British public to honour the legacy of the Merchant Navy and its people – both past and present.
While the armed forces are regularly the main focus of the day, the efforts and sacrifices of Merchant Navy seafarers are not given the attention they deserve, according to the seafaring charity.
The call for increased awareness comes ahead of a dedicated service taking place on November 8th at the Merchant Navy Memorial in Tower Hill, where commemorative wreaths will be laid by the Honourable Company of Master Mariners.
Despite merchant shipping playing a critical role in British society and culture, with 184,000 current and former serving members, public interest in the industry has steadily declined since its decisive role in WWII, leaving understanding and appreciation of the sector at an all-time low.
Jobs in the Merchant Navy span a variety of industries including transportation and logistics, energy, manufacturing, travel and leisure, as well as the fishing and maritime sector. Yet despite its multi-faceted contribution to British economy, the needs and issues facing those serving in the Merchant Navy too often pale in significance when directly compared with matters concerning the Royal Navy and other armed forces.
Drawing the country’s attention to this, the RMNEF has published The Bridge Report which seeks to remind people that being a member of the Merchant Navy can be a rewarding yet demanding occupation. Long periods away from home, very occasionally in unsafe and unhealthy environments are part and parcel of the job description, and come with a range of emotional and physical challenges that can have a knock-on effect to families and loved ones.
Serving to strengthen the authority behind the report, its findings were the subject of an Early Day Motion, which has received 12 signatures so to date. A foreword from HM The Queen – patron of the charity – also endorses the RMNEF’s drive to reconnect the Merchant Navy with the British public which it serves.
CEO of RMNEF Charles Heron-Watson said: “While Remembrance Day is primarily about those who lay down their life in the armed forces, it’s also about those in the Merchant Navy who sacrificed just as much during two world wars. We ask that people spare an extra moment at 11 a.m. on November 11 to commemorate this.”
Using the sentiment of ‘’Education is the Foundation, the RMNEF provides a wide range of financial and tangible benefits for seafaring families, including contributions towards school or university fees, living expenses, educational books, visits or equipment, school uniform costs – even laptops and internet access.
For more information about the charity visit www.rmnef.org.uk