silhouette of board from meeting against sunset background


MNWB Ambassadors

Raising awareness, improving understanding

The MNWB launched its volunteer-led Ambassadors’ Programme in early 2022 to raise awareness of its work and improve understanding of services available to its constituent members and the wider maritime sector. The Board now has six ambassadors in Gordon Foot, John Hood, Martin Phipps, Neil Atkinson, Paul Hayes and Stephen Gudgeon, all of whom are outstanding maritime professionals and are well known for their work in support of seafarers’ welfare.

Working in collaboration with our constituent organisations, the maritime industry, government, and wider public audiences around the UK and its territories, our ambassadors will undertake visits to key stakeholders to promote and profile the work of MNWB. Their broad maritime knowledge and expertise will help us to build stronger relationships and raise awareness of the maritime welfare sector.

Gordon Foot

Gordon is a consultant and operates in a ship borne senior leadership role as a Senior Client Representative supervising offshore operations on major offshore wind farms, oil and gas and environmental projects. Gordon is a retired Weapons Engineering Manager of the UK Royal Navy, having served a 19-year career in nuclear submarines on special operations. He has worked across multiple offshore disciplines; Marine construction, pipe, cables, topsides, bridges, UXO, FPSO, subsea infrastructure, telecom submarine cables and has undertaken projects across shallow, coastal and deep offshore project applications. Gordon is married to Sue for 34 years and has two children and two grandchildren.

John Hood

Born in Kent, John has lived in Scotland since 1981. He joined the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service in 1974 as an assistant purser before being promoted to First Officer in 1984 and Chief Officer in 1991. Four years later, he served ashore in senior staff officer positions in logistics, and in 2002 as Head of RFA Manpower, Recruitment, Training & Education in the newly-formed Fleet HQ. On promotion to Captain, in 2005 he served in the Logistics Capability Division of Navy Command Headquarters on Whale Island in Portsmouth as Chief Staff Officer. He also became a volunteer ship visitor for Stella Maris. In 2010 he assumed the role of HR Director for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service before retiring in 2015. Since then, John has been active in the maritime charity sector with The Seafarers’ Charity, Stella Maris and more recently MNWB as chair of the Port Welfare Committee for West and Central Scotland and now an ambassador.

Martin Phipps

Martin is a Master Mariner and before retiring, was the Harbour Master for the Port of Southampton after having spent a career at sea in the Merchant Navy with over 10 years’ command experience. He also served for over 20 years in the Royal Naval Reserve, obtaining the rank of Commander and specialising in Amphibious Warfare. On leaving the Merchant Navy he joined Associated British Ports Southampton as a Pilot before becoming Harbour Master.  On retirement he now works part time for ABP as a Marine Consultant and is the Designated Person (PMSC) for several large ports.  He is also Chair of the Board’s Southern PWC. Martin, who lives in Hampshire, was elected a Younger Brethren of Trinity House in 2013 and is married with 3 grown up children.

Neil Atkinson

Following an extensive seagoing career as an Engineer in the Merchant Navy, Neil came ashore and worked as a Superintendent Engineer for three years before joining the Marine Safety Agency as a Marine Surveyor in 1994 retiring as a Principal Surveyor in October 2020, after a total of 46 years in the maritime industry. Whilst working for the MCA, Neil was involved in all aspects of the MCA’s work including Flag State surveys and port state control inspections. In 2007, Neil moved to the HQ Inspection Branch and was extensively involved in implementing the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 for the UK. Neil chaired the ILO informal tripartite working group which drafted the Guidelines for Flag State Inspections and is an ILO official trainer for the ILO courses on training of trainers and Maritime Inspectors on the application of the ILO Maritime Labour Convention, 2006. Neil has a keen interest in seafarers’ welfare, chairing the MNWB’s Southern Port Welfare Committee for four years and latterly was a member of the MNWB Council of Management. Neil was awarded the Merchant Navy Medal in 2015 for services to the International Maritime Labour Convention, 2006.

Paul Hayes

Paul started his career as a Blue Funnel cadet, training as a navigating officer and serving on many vessel types including general cargo, container, ro/ro, and oil tankers, trading worldwide. After obtaining his masters, Paul came ashore in the late 1980s and worked for Caleb Brett, an international cargo inspecting company, mainly involved with quantity and quality of bulk liquids; petroleum products, gases and chemicals with clients throughout Ireland and Scotland. He joined ExxonMobil in the 1990s working as Terminal Controller and Supervisor at their distribution terminals in Belfast, Birmingham and Nottingham. Paul joined the Port of Larne in 2002, then owned and operated by P&O as Port Controller and assisted setting up a Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) within the port. In 2006, he joined Belfast Harbour, progressing to the position of Deputy Harbour Master in 2011. Paul has been involved with the Merchant Navy Welfare Board for over 15 years and has been Chair of its N. Ireland Committee for the past six years.

Stephen Gudgeon

Stephen is a retired seafarer – and throughout his career has fought to improve safety, culture, well-being and welfare of all who chose life at sea. From pre-sea school in Hull to a cadet ship with Houlder Brother, Stephen received a solid base for advancement through the industry, becoming a master with Maersk, Shell and Nakilat. Stephen is an active, elected member of Nautilus International General Council and knows the importance of identifying the needs and aspirations of maritime colleagues and bringing this to the attention of people, organisations and statutory bodies who can make a difference. Stephen is also a Liveryman with The Honourable Company of Master Mariners and a volunteer with ISWAN – both of which continue to give him an insight into the community from multiple viewpoints.