Mission to Seafarers honors those improving welfare of others

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The following is text of a news release from The Mission to Seafarers:

(SINGAPORE) — The International seafarer welfare charity The Mission to Seafarers announced the winners of its inaugural Seafarers Awards at a dinner in Singapore on May 11. The award winners — chosen by judges Capt. Kuba Szymanski, secretary-general of InterManager, Marlon Rono, president and CEO of the Magsaysay People Resources Corp., Esben Poulsson, chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping, and the Rev. Canon Andrew Wright, secretary-general of The Mission to Seafarers — represent seafarers and operational staff in the maritime industry who made a significant contribution to the welfare of others.

Servet Akturk a Pumpman with Zenith Maritime hailing from Turkey received an award for his significant contribution to the welfare of his fellow crew aboard the tanker Good Lady. A talented woodworker, Akturk has contributed greatly to the social life on board his vessel by making a pinball table for the crew and new equipment for the onboard gym. He also makes personal gifts for specific individuals and writes poetry. Akturk was nominated for this award by his chief officer who has seen the impact that his hobby has had on the rest of the crew.

The next award went to a captain whose approachable and considerate leadership has supported his crew directly and positioned him as a true role model to his officers and others within his company, Via Marine Philippines. Capt. Jonathan Adriatico’s patient and good-humored attitude has helped his crews grow and learn and has set an excellent example to other aspiring captains of the good that can be done in the role.

Capt. Rajesh Unni was presented the award for the shore-based individual who had significantly contributed to seafarers’ welfare. A truly remarkable individual, Unni, who is the founder and CEO of Synergy Group, has had a tremendous welfare impact both on specific individuals and on the wider seafaring community. In addition to the financial support and low-interest loans offered to seafarers and his direct action to support greater gender equality in the maritime work force, the judges were also impressed with his personal generosity. As well as supporting a number of charities with donations, Unni is a trustee of a cancer hospital in India, where seafarers receive free treatment, and a blood bank that seafarers can access free of charge. The award recognized Unni’s impressive lifetime commitment to the welfare of seafarers and his support to them through the issues they face.

The company award was given to an organization that, in its own words “understands that taking care of seafarers means development of the company and assurance of its future." MTM Ship Management was recognized for both the big and small contributions it makes to its seafarers’ well-being. Vital contributions like providing health insurance to seafarers and their families and sponsoring employees' children through English proficiency courses sat alongside a caring attitude, such as open feedback sessions and recognizing birthdays and anniversaries with cards and gifts. MTM has truly created a compassionate community between their shore-based and seafaring employees.

Finally, the secretary-general’s special award for outstanding service to seafarers went to Peter Cottrell. Serving seafarers in Africa for over 20 years and always coming back to his mantra “will what I am about to do benefit seafarers?”, Cottrell has worked to create the best possible environment for seafarers, often at significant personal expense. Joining the Mission as a volunteer in 1998, Cottrell soon joined the local committee and has since played a fundamental role in the strategic change and governance of the mission as it regionalized to cover the African continent.

“Seafarers are so often overlooked or undervalued for the vital part they play in the everyday lives of people everywhere," Wright said. "Away at sea for months at time it can be all too easy for individuals and organizations to fall into the trap of ‘out of sight, out of mind.' The recipients of today’s awards challenge that in every way, making a real difference personally and professionally to the welfare of seafarers. It has been particularly moving to see how the contributions of one individual can change the fortunes of so many, be that one crew or a whole organization. These people and organizations should be role models to all the rest of us in the maritime industry.”

“This was an amazing evening honoring truly remarkable contributions to seafarer welfare from around the world," said Jan Webber, director of development, The Mission to Seafarers. "Capt. Rob Walker, chairman of the mission in Singapore, put huge amounts of time and dedication into making this event a success and it will have a remarkable ongoing impact to seafarers in Singapore. (The money that) has been raised by the event … will go toward funding the mission in Singapore. This could not have been possible without Shell and BHP Billiton, our gold sponsors, North P&I Club, the China Navigation Company and Singapore Organization of Seamen, our silver sponsors, and our drinks sponsor, HFW.”

By Professional Mariner Staff