From ship to shore

My name is Chris Rankin. I am a retired civil servant, ex WRNR married to a retired Merchant Navy Captain with 3 grown up children who all live in the antipodes and I live in Cornwall.

What do I do within Community Network, well it was once said that I give 76 retired seafarers an hour’s worth of pleasure each fortnight! I run the Seafarers Link project allowing ex-seafarers to meet up by telephone fortnightly.

In 2007 the Maritime Charities Funding Group (MCFG) commissioned a report “Supporting Seafarers and their families” one section of which titled “Older Seafarers and Dependants”, demonstrated that ex seafarers are more lonely and socially isolated than their contemporaries who had followed other occupations.  Community Network approached MCFG for funding to launch Seafarers Link on the basis of the recommendations in the report.   Seafarers Link is now funded by Seafarers UK with an aim of reaching out to more retired Seafarers to enable them to join in the link and spend time talking  and sharing their sea stories with other like-minded people.

Members (both male and female) involved in this national telephone link tell me what an integral part of their lifestyles the calls have become and indeed new friendships have been formed.   Those that care for these seafarers have also expressed an evident lift in spirits, both in anticipating and following on from their group participation in their group telephone calls.  Calls give them the opportunity to have some social contact outside their normal day and to share their sea stories with each other.  In fact if any of them have to go into hospital they have even been able to continue their calls from their hospital bed.

Recently we have been able to publish some of the stories from these telephone calls as a volunteer graduate in literature has compiled CDs of some of their stories meaning they will be remembered long into the future.

Outside of Community Network I am the National Chairman of The Watch Ashore a group of Merchant Naval wives, and I am also involved with the Merchant Navy Welfare Board. I am also a keen gardener and if I get any spare time, I enjoy walking our Hungarian Vizla dog and reading.

Chris Rankin MBE
Seafarers Link Project Manager