Test Valley Borough Council marked Merchant Navy Day on 3 September with the flying of the Red Ensign at venues across the borough to raise awareness of the UK’s ongoing dependence on Merchant Navy seafarers.
The nationwide call for support came from the Seafarers UK charity and the Merchant Navy Association, who asked for the UK Merchant Navy’s official flag to be flown on public buildings and landmark flagstaffs.
Mayor of Test Valley, Councillor Iris Andersen, read a message from HRH The Earl of Wessex, President of Seafarers UK, at the Time Ring on Andover High Street at 9.55am, before the Merchant Navy flags were raised at the Guildhall at 10am. Deputy Mayor of Test Valley, Councillor Karen Hamilton, carried out the same ceremony outside the Former Magistrates’ Court in Romsey, with the assistance of Alan Cartwright, commercial manager at Warsash Maritime Academy. Flags were also flown at Beech Hurst, Andover, and Crosfield Hall, Romsey.
Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, Councillor Ian Carr, said: “I was delighted to attend the flag raising ceremony earlier this month. Our Merchant Navy has done, and continues to do, a fantastic job protecting our shores and helping to provide for our country, and the flag raising was an opportunity to recognise and reflect on this.”
As an island nation, the UK relies on Merchant Navy seafarers for 95 per cent of its imports, including half the food we eat. The UK has more sea ports than any other country in Europe and 75 per cent of our exports are shipped by the Merchant Navy.
The 3 September marks the anniversary of the sinking of the SS Athenia, which was torpedoed just hours after Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain declared the outbreak of World War II. Tragically, the last casualties before VE Day were also from a Merchant ship.
For more information, visit www.merchantnavyfund.org/merchant-navy-day