A Royal Navy Veteran visited a Surrey school to encourage youngsters to consider important professions in the Royal and Merchant Navy, ahead of World Maritime Day on Thursday 27th September.
Roy Ticehurst is a resident at the Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society; a Surrey based nursing home which provides dedicated accommodation and care to former seafarers and their dependants. The visit to Woodmansterne Primary School will raise awareness of the important role the Merchant and Royal Navy play in our society among the younger generation, following a report by Maritime UK which highlighted a future shortage of new recruits.
Roy Ticehurst, 88, joined the Royal Navy aged 18 and was based at HMS Royal Arthur in Skegness where he undertook many diverse roles, including gunner and Morse code interpreter. He also spent time as a naval guard in Sri Lanka, protecting members of the Women’s Royal Naval Service (Wrens) and essential supplies and also saw action in the D-Day Landings.
He says: “I think the maritime industry is a forgotten sector. When I signed up there was at least a couple of people that went to sea in every single village. The opportunities are not broadcast as they used to be and young people are missing out on the travel, broadening their outlook and seeing how people in other parts of the world live.”
Great Britain’s maritime sector is the largest in Europe, yet when a group of 15 to 24 year olds were asked ‘would you consider a career in the maritime sector?’ only 12 percent responded ‘yes’, according to Sea Vision UK*.
The Merchant Navy has kept citizens in the UK fed, clothed and equipped for over 200 years, not to mention being a lynchpin of the economy. Today 95 per cent of Britain’s imports and 75 per cent of exports travel by sea.
Yet, despite this, a report by Maritime UK recently suggested large numbers of seafarers will retire in the coming decade which could potentially lead to a shortage of personnel if more young people do not enter the industry. There were 104,000 people in the British Merchant Navy in the late 1960s, and now the figure is a quarter of that.
In addition to maritime defence of the nation and our interests worldwide, the Royal Navy. It also remains a significant force for good on the world’s oceans with “blue water” capability and a huge influence worldwide. The Royal Navy contributes vitally to the stability, economic growth and development of the UK, however, personnel numbers are in decline. Between July 2011 and July 2012 there has been an overall decrease in trained Royal Navy staff of 2,270.
Commander Brian Boxall-Hunt OBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, said: “Given the apparent lack of knowledge of the importance of the Royal and Merchant Navies among young people, we at the Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society are engaging with local schools, including Woodmansterne Primary School in Banstead, to hopefully encourage some young people to consider a career at sea or in the wider maritime industry. In the communal areas of the home I hear some fantastic stories from people that have served in both the Royal and Merchant Navy and the camaraderie is incredible. It seems a shame for youngsters to miss out on that through lack of knowledge. As an island nation we seem to have lost the essential connection with the sea around us and its vital importance to our country.”
World Maritime Day, on 30 September, is organised by the International Maritime Organisation and focuses attention on the importance of shipping safety, maritime security and the marine environment. For more information on a career with the Merchant or Royal Navies please visit http://www.careersatsea.org/ or www.royalnavy.mod.uk.
The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society is a registered charity and was established in 1865. It is incorporated under Royal Charter, with HRH the Princess Royal as its patron. The Society’s primary aim is to provide accommodation, care and support to former seafarers, who may need special help and like-minded companionship in their old age due to the isolated nature of their careers. Under the Royal Charter, ‘seafarers’ include Merchant Navy, Royal Navy, fishermen and port workers, as well as their widows or dependants. The Society also welcomes residents of non-seafaring backgrounds when able to do so.
*Sea Vision UK figures