John went to sea in 1967, in his early 20s, and loved it from the word go. He worked for Union Castle, Shaw Savill, P&O and the New Zealand Shipping Company with whom he stayed for six years.

One of the worst incidents John was involved with whilst at sea was when his ship caught fire.

‘We were on our way to New York on the Rangitane passenger ship to start a world cruise, when at 2 o’clock in the morning the emergency red lights came on. We had an electrical fire on the sundeck. As the crew poured water over the fire, the ship started to list and we lost all the lifeboats. It took ten days for an army of painters and electricians to fix the ship in New York, before we could start our cruise’ - John


Besides the drama, John loved his job. ‘When I came home on leave, for three weeks or a month, I couldn’t wait to get back. I had no family at that time, but then I met my partner and we moved in together.’

Unfortunately, ten years ago she was diagnosed with cancer and John lost her in a fortnight. ‘It was a nightmare. My world fell apart and my health took a dive. I collapsed in my home village with a high heart rate and thought I was dying, but I was taken to hospital and given a pacemaker.’

John now lives on his own in Norfolk with no next of kin, no family, and he’s finding life lonely. When his doctor assigned him a social worker, he was in a very dark place. The social worker asked John about his job and his past, and after doing some research on the Internet, he found Seafarers Group Calls.

John is on the telephone conference every week now. He would speak for about an hour with other group users and it makes him feel very positive. ‘It has been like a life raft in stormy seas for me.’

Seafarers Group Calls is a project supported by The Seafarers’ Charity which aims to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness of 120 older ex-seafarers, and their dependants, by facilitating their participation in 2,500 moderated community group telephone sessions.

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