Confirmation candidates and other youngsters from the parish of St Thomas of Canterbury, (made up of the cluster of Holy Rosary, St John the Evangelist and St Joseph’s) Billingham, presented Christmas gifts to seafarers for the second year in succession. Led by Fr John Butters and Catechists Peter and Caroline Kelly, items were collected, and these, together with a generous donation of toiletries from the Queensway Dentist Practice in Billingham, enabled the group to put together and wrap 66 shoe box size parcels for distribution to seafarers.
One evening just before Christmas, Peter and Caroline brought a group of the youngsters to the Seafarers Centre. Here they met and spent time with newly arrived Filipino crewmembers from the m/v Pippit Arrow, a large general cargo ship, and happily passed on gifts for the whole crew. This was doubly significant as the ship was only in port for a couple of days and would be somewhere far out to sea on Christmas Day. The seafarers were, as ever, very appreciative.
Similarly, confirmation candidates from St Theresa’s and St Patrick’s parishes, in Hartlepool, led by Fr Adrian Tuckwell, and Catechist Gaynor Parkinson put together a large number of Christmas presents which they wished to pass on to seafarers. However, it was not possible to arrange delivery until after Christmas, but with excellent timing this took place on the feast of the Epiphany. Ideally we would have liked the group to meet the seafarers on board ship, but age restrictions on entry to the port prevented this, so Ship Visitor Brenda Bland arranged for the Croatian Captain and some of the crewmembers from the m/v Federal Mattawa to come to the car park at the Gate House where a friendly hand over took place with the youngsters having an opportunity to chat with the seafarers and to learn more about their working lives and families back home. This ship had been at deep sea during Christmas so these gifts were perhaps doubly appreciated.
Our thanks too, to the parishes, groups and individuals who donated presents for distribution to seafarers in other ports in the diocese.
Pictured: l to r Brenda Bland (AoS Ship Visitor Hartlepool), Captain Bruno, 4th from left Gaynor Parkinson (Catechist), youngsters with Filipino seafarers, Fr Adrian Tuckwell and Michael Carter (AoS Ship Visitor Hartlepool).
Billingham parishes – PICT0006 Filipino seafarers from the m/v Pipit Arrow enjoy an evening at the Tees Seafarers Centre with a visit from youngsters of the Billingham parishes bearing gifts.