Staff

The team are central to our organisation
and what we stand for:

Stuart Rivers – Chief Executive Officer

Stuart joined the Merchant Navy Welfare Board in December 2021 and is a highly experienced, successful and well-regarded business leader with experience in multinational businesses and international charities. He has had a successful career in Ericsson, rising from a Support Centre Manager to Global Commercial Director, and The Salvation Army where, following 2 years’ residential training, he spent 5 years in church and community leadership.  More recently, Stuart was Chief Executive Officer of Sailors' Society where he delivered a strong programme of activities around the world supporting the welfare of seafarers and their families. He has previously supported MNWB as a consultant, with a focus on technology projects that support the establishment of welfare boards under the auspices of ILO Maritime Labour Convention, 2006.

Sharon Coveney - Deputy Chief Executive

Sharon joined the Board in May 2013. She chose to follow the footsteps of both her parents and brother by joining the Merchant Navy in 1993. After spending 4 years at sea with P&O cruises she pursued a career change to work with homeless people suffering with mental illness. She then spent the next 14 years delivering community support and accommodation based support services. Her last role included the management and service delivery of 8 supported housing projects for care leavers, homeless pregnant teenagers, single homeless and mental health / dual diagnosis. Sharon describes herself as having a natural empathy towards people and a “can do” attitude. Her mother lived at the Merchant Seaman’s War Memorial Society (now known as Care Ashore) for over 20 years. This, she says, has given her a thorough awareness of the issues that seafarers may face as well as personal experience of a maritime charity that provides accommodation and support.

Joel Holt - Communications and Media Manager

Joel joined the Merchant Navy Welfare Board in January 2022 and is the first point of call for all press and media enquiries. Joel is a PR and communications professional with 10 years’ experience in the media sector, joining the Board after spells managing the media output for two leading rural organisations - the Country Land & Business Association and the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust. Prior to that, Joel, who trained as a journalist, worked at the Salisbury Journal as sports editor for five years as well as reporting for BBC local radio stations.

Sarah Edward - Port Welfare Committee Manager

After graduating from the University of Wales with an Honours Degree in Heritage Conservation and Archaeology, Sarah went on to work for the National Trust honing her administration rather than digging skills. After a stint in the NHS as a Clerical Officer, Sarah decided she needed a change of scenery and joined the Merchant Navy. She spent 4 years at sea as a Purser with Princess Cruises before joining the Board in 2009.

Tom Holmer  - Port Welfare Committee Manager

Tom takes on this role as maternity leave replacement for Katherine Lockwood in 2020/1. His background in seafarers’ welfare started with the ITF working in the actions unit and as researcher, and with the ITF Seafarer’s Trust. He has also worked with ISWAN on alleviating the affects of maritime piracy on seafarers and their families, and with the Sustainable Shipping Initiative on reducing the environmental impact of shipping. Most recently he has worked on the International Port Welfare Partnership with MNWB on behalf of ISWAN, and is now learning the nuts and bolts work of Port Welfare Committee operation.

Helen van Gass - Training & Welfare Manager

From school, Helen worked in foreign exchange, commercial, and mercantile banking where she remained until the birth of her sons. Helen then volunteered at her children’s school, and ran a school after-care centre for 200 children for nearly 20 years. During this time, Helen also volunteered in the school finance department, assisting parents with access to school fee subsidies, and was elected Vice Chairman of the school’s Governing Body. Helen then returned to England from South Africa, and worked in a few short-term positions before joining the Board in 2016.

Aiden Harvey - Projects & Welfare Co-ordinator

Aiden has spent the majority of his working life in the customer service sector beginning with customer complaints at British Gas. He then changed direction and for the following 10 years was on the staff of a local Hampshire housing association where he became a Lettings Officer. He was responsible for liaising with all the councils across southern England to arrange re-lets of empty properties, as well as working with local agencies responsible for the government’s new homes targets. Primarily targeting small rural schemes, he worked with local parish councils in delivering affordable housing for local people. Aiden joined the Board in April 2017 as Project Administrator.

Celia Jackson - Executive Assistant

Prior to joining the Merchant Navy Welfare Board, Celia worked as a Chief Stewardess on Superyachts. Her work enabled her to travel the world but after more than eight years at sea she relocated to Southampton looking for a better work-life balance. Celia was excited to join the Board in 2018 in a role where she has been able to put to good use her organisational skills and thoroughly enjoys the variety of her work at the Board as Peter’s Executive Assistant. She also brings to the Board a strong empathy and understanding of some of the challenges facing today’s seafarers. Prior to yachting, Celia worked in recruitment advertising after graduating from University with a BA Hons in French and Spanish.

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