Kind-hearted members of local churches and groups in Burnham-On-Sea, Brean and Berrow have packed dozens of shoeboxes full of gifts for seafarers thousands of miles from home this Christmas.
The shoeboxes have been filled with gifts donated by local churchgoers in the Burnham-On-Sea area who collected items for the boxes for the Mission to Seafarers over the last few weeks.
Liz Roost, Mission to Seafarers representative at St. Andrew’s Church in Burnham, says: “Members of St Andrew’s have been busy filling Christmas shoeboxes with goodies, including items of warm clothing and toiletries, chocolates and small games and messages of good cheer for seafarers far from home at Christmas.”
“We have transported them to the Seafarers Mission at Portbury along with monetary donations, and also some bags of beautifully hand-knitted scarves and hats made during the year by the ladies of Brent Knoll W.I.”
They were joined by representatives from the Burnham-On-Sea Trefoil Guild and from the churches of St. Mary’s in Berrow and St. Bridget’s in Brean.
It was in 1836 that a local priest, Revd. John Ashley looked out at the ships anchored in the Bristol Channel and was deeply moved as he reflected on these isolated communities and their particular needs.
Liz adds: “It was his compassionate response – and his desire to share God’s love with them, that lead to the founding of the Mission to Seafarers some 20 years later. Times may have changed but many of those fundamental needs remain unchanged. The Missions care for all seafarers of all faiths and none.”
“The kind and practical interventions by over 200 Missions across the world are as welcome and necessary now as they were then. Often undramatic and unsung, the work of the Missions is life-changing and life-enhancing and can be life-saving.”
“The local Mission at Portbury warmly welcomed the Burnham group and was delighted to receive the Christmas gifts again this year.”
“Seafarers make up a hidden, often forgotten ‘army’ of dedicated workers who brave often harsh conditions to keep our islands supplied with much of our food, medical supplies and consumer goods. More than 90% of the world’s goods and fuels are transported around the world, thanks to seafarers. Without them the world’s economy would grind to a halt.”
“Many seafarers are away from home for months on end and are often unable to disembark themselves when they are in port. Covid restrictions and the limited time the shops dock at Avonmouth can be reasons for this. Mission Chaplains are permitted on board to deliver gifts and give advice and help. The seafarers know they are not forgotten.”
During the Burnham visit, Joel and his friend, both from the Philippines, were visiting the Mission while their ship was unloading cars from Japan. Joel was delighted with his new scarf and hat and helped unload boxes with a fellow seafarer and one of the Mission managers. Joel left home last February and will not be able to return until later in 2023.