Apostleship of the Sea volunteer ship visitor Joe McHugh has been awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire medal) for his services to radioactive substances regulation and also for his voluntary services to the community.
For many years Dr McHugh has worked in the Radioactive Substances Regulation department at the Environment Agency’s headquarters in Bristol working to ensure radioactive material is used and disposed of properly throughout England.
The 59-year-old married father-of-two was also recognised for his voluntary work which includes ship visiting with seafarers’ charity Apostleship of the Sea, which locally cares for seafarers coming into Sharpness Docks in the South West of England.
Joe said he was flabbergasted when he heard the news he was receiving the honour. “I am very honoured to get the award,” he said. “I didn’t think I really deserved it, I think I have a very good team at the agency. I can think of a lot of people who could deserve the award rather than me. My family were very pleased for me.”
Joe has got to know many of the multi-cultural crew that call at Sharpness over the years and is always ready to listen as they talk and tell him of their lives. He offers them comfort and strength and also practical help in terms of clothes and help to contact loved ones back home by phone or internet.
Apostleship of the Sea explain that for more than ten years a team of volunteer ship visitors has been supporting the faith and welfare of ship visitors calling at the port of Sharpness. An important part of the work of Joe and the rest of the AoS team has been bringing seafarers to mass at their parish of Christ the King Thornbury.