Around 400 pupils from a Catholic school in Chelmsford, Essex were taken on a voyage of discovery across the oceans – from the safety of their school desks and chairs.
The students from New Hall School were introduced to the world of global shipping and the lives of seafarers, who play a vital role in moving essential goods by sea.
They also learnt about the ministry of Catholic seafarers’ charity Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) and how the organisation provides pastoral and practical support to seafarers in need.
AoS director of development John Green who presented two talks at the school said, “The subject of the sea and the lives of seafarers touches many aspects of the national curriculum and is a fundamental part of this country’s heritage.”
He added, “We rely on the sea for many things and up to 95% of the goods we use or consume in the UK arrive by sea. There are some 100,000 ships at sea crewed by more than 1.5 million seafarers. It is a world that is often so close to children from seaside trips and ferry crossings, but relatively unknown to them.”
AoS, through its network of port chaplains across Great Britain, supports seafarers, from providing them with providing pastoral care and helping them to attend Mass to providing WiFi connection and telephone cards so they can contact home.
Fr Anthony McNeill, the school’s chaplain who organised the talks, has himself previously served as a chaplain on board cruise ships. During the assembly, he spoke of his experience supporting the crew of a cruise ship whose colleague had died on board.