Charity hoists national campaign to 'Fly the Red Ensign' and celebrate our merchant seafarers

National maritime charity, The Seafarers’ Charity, is calling on the support of the organisations and communities across the UK to show their appreciation and support for the Merchant Navy by flying the Red Ensign on this year’s Merchant Navy Day (3 September), and donating to merchant seafarers who in particular have been hit by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the latest crises facing the nation.

The annual campaign encourages individuals and organisations from all around the UK to fly the flag this September to recognise the efforts of those who kept Britain afloat during both world wars and raise wider awareness of the ‘invisible and forgotten’ seafarers who work daily to deliver over 90% of the nation’s imports.

Donations to the charity’s Merchant Navy Fund can also be made, enabling the organisation to continue its support for seafarers in need, many of whom have been significantly affected by financial pressures or injury.

Where flying a physical flag isn’t achievable, the charity is asking people to show their support by sharing photos and messages on social media using the hashtag #MerchantNavyDay, as well as other campaign initiatives that can be found in its free supporters pack available on the charity’s website.

The Fund was set up in 2012 as a collaboration between The Seafarers’ Charity and the Merchant Navy Welfare Board. More than £720,000 in donations have been generated and more than £700,000 in grants distributed over the past decade, supporting UK serving or retired merchant navy seafarers, in lieu of government funding.

This year’s Merchant Navy Day is a poignant one. Essentially, today is the day we remember the forgotten or invisible service; the men and women responsible for carrying up to 95% of our island nation’s trade.

Regrettably, it is only during times of war that the service enters our consciousness, whether that be the Second World War or the Falklands War 40 years ago. It may be a civilian service, but it ranks on the same level as the Armed Forces because of its critical role.

In this, Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee, we also recognise her position as Master of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets as well as Patron of The Seafarers’ Charity, duties The Queen has undertaken for 70 remarkable years. - President of The Seafarers’ Charity, HRH Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex

The Red Ensign, the official flag of Britain’s Merchant Navy, is flown already on many town halls, company offices, official buildings, church towers and village greens every 3rd September, but more will always be welcome and we are encouraging everyone who can to get behind the cause this year.

This year is an extra special year, as we celebrate the Platinum Jubilee and 10 years of the Merchant Navy Fund. The Fund remains as vital today as ever and in this milestone year, all donations made are hugely appreciated and will make an undoubted difference to the lives of seafarers in need.

Deborah Layde
CEO of The Seafarers’ Charity