Christmas message from the CEO

Dear friends, supporters and members,

Well, 2023 has come and gone, yet it’s been one of the most important years in the Board’s history.

This year we celebrated our 75th anniversary with our members, supporters, stakeholders, parliamentarians, Lords, Ladies and Peers, welfare charities, trustees, staff, organisations from across the maritime sector, MNWB ambassadors and Port Welfare Committee chairs in the Palace of Westminster.

It was there we were able to celebrate 75 years since we were formed by the UK Government to oversee the provision of welfare for merchant seafarers and fishers. We also launched our UK Port Welfare Provision Report that identifies a long-term sustainable welfare provision model for seafarers.

But this year we have done so much more.

While the sector is still navigating its way through the remnants of the pandemic, the Russian/Ukrainian conflict, the P&O Ferries’ disaster, the cost-of-living crisis, challenges with shore leave, connectivity and mental health, seafarers continue to work tirelessly to keep the UK economy moving.

Strong resolve and resilience shown by the UK maritime charities’ sector to ensure seafarers can prosper by leading from the front has been formidable. MNWB, as the umbrella charity for Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets, in collaboration with our 45 constituent organisations, ship owners, ports, unions, and the UK Government, has enabled the sector to drive forward.

Some of the Board’s standout moments of helping to improve seafarers’ lives in 2023 include:

  • We were named winner of the Commercial Collaboration of the Year at the Association of Charitable Organisations awards following the Board’s 2022 project to deliver 13,000 SIM cards to Ukrainian seafarers in the height of the war with Russia.
  • We launched our new mobile seafarer centre bus – a pilot project that ran twice in Southampton port during the summer and the festive period.
  • Our two-day Seafarers’ Welfare Conference that aimed to review and improve seafarers’ welfare services.
  • Three new ambassadors were appointed in Gordon Foot, Paul Hayes and
    Stephen Gudgeon
  • Former Maritime Minister Robert Courts MP was announced as our new Vice President.
  • We bolstered our role as the UK National Seafarers’ Welfare Board (NSWB), managing 16 Port Welfare Committees (PWCs) across the UK and Gibraltar with a combined membership of over 360.
  • The Board’s team was in full force during London International Shipping Week.
  • We delivered grants, in collaboration with Department for Transport, that is revolutionising the maritime sector with investment spread across careers, skills, diversity and people.

So, as we say farewell to 2023, I would like to finish by thanking you for your support and wishing you a very happy, healthy and safe Christmas. Tens of thousands of seafarers will be working tirelessly over the festive period to deliver Christmas:


I look forward to achieving great things with you next year. In the meantime, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

With best wishes,

Stuart Rivers

Chief Executive