'What a year, what an opportunity, what a privilege!'

A Day in the Life of Ambassador Alèxe Finlay: As the first year of MNWB’s Ambassador Programme draws to a close, Alèxe details her experiences of travelling across the country to meet with maritime charities.

At first, being appointed an Ambassador seemed initially to involve form filling, meetings by Zoom, and spreadsheets – all under the cloak of a C-19 pandemic, and none of which seemed particularly exciting. Forms can be an occupational hazard; life by Zoom had its uses and spreadsheets have never been an attractive proposition to a wordsmith.

But, rather like Moley in “The Wind in the Willows”, the Ambassadors emerged blinking into the daylight and hit the road.

The brief is to ensure maritime welfare charities are aware of the extent of the MNWB’s scope and the range of its services and to bring back ideas for both synergy and growth. The fragmented kick-off owing to the exigencies of the pandemic and the changing responsibilities of the MNWB itself made our engines stutter as we started our journey which is now remarkably ending its first year.

What a year, what an opportunity, what a privilege and sometimes how humbling to see how hard many volunteers, as well as employed personnel, are working in this sector. To those of us also working voluntarily offering practical welfare support to seafarers in our own localities, we see our problems replicated – lack of volunteers, difficulties with funding, unsuitable vehicles, over dependence on “virtual” communication and a reticence to return to actual contact.

So, at the end of the first year, the message is – this is a two-way process. If any maritime charity has a difficult problem, speak to the MNWB directly, speak to an ambassador, but do not think you are working in a vacuum because you are not, as we are stronger together than apart. The answer may not be an immediate “yes” but with the benefit of collective knowledge, there will be a way through to ensure that all seafarers, serving or retired, and their dependants, can have the standard of service they deserve.

On to 2023 we go!