Andrew’s May Blog 2023

24th May 2023
This has been a truly incredible few weeks for The Mission to Seafarers, in many ways, but with the extraordinary Adventure Race Japan at its heart.

It was a privilege to attend and take part in the challenge, in which I was the oldest competitor, and indeed, I had my 65th birthday during the event! I can say from experience that it was indeed very hard. I have done much mountain walking, but both days, the last in particular, were some of the toughest I have ever done, especially given the steepness of the inclines and the testing weather conditions. For all 64 teams that took part on the Black Dragon and the Green Dragon courses, it truly put us through our paces. Congratulations to all. With almost 200 competitors, it was, I believe, the largest and most complex event ever organised in MtS history. It was also a ground-breaking event for Japanese maritime, which is such a vital part of global shipping. Many of their companies took part, along with many others from all over the world, and it was great to be able to welcome some of Japan’s most influential maritime figures. It was an immense feat of organisation, inspired and overseen by its high-profile committee and carried out by the amazing Jan Webber and her dedicated and talented team, supported by a breadth of professional partners. It has been a rip-roaring success both in terms of the money raised for our front-line work and in terms of the building of new partnerships. And great fun. The atmosphere was indeed very special. It was all, frankly, brilliant. My thanks go to all involved.

As I toiled up the slopes, particularly on Day 2, when we had to haul ourselves up through thick mud on ropes and chains, falling frequently, I reflected on the parallels with life. There are times in all our lives when it feels like we are going up impossibly steep and painful slopes in terrible weather, sometimes without much light and carrying heavy weights. We can only put one foot in front of the other. Thankfully, there are times when we also reach the top of one summit and suddenly see life from a new perspective, when all is suddenly fresh and hopeful. We rest our tired limbs for a while. So it is often for seafarers and their families, especially in these last years, and crew have to travel the slopes without friends and family on hand. We were well supported on this challenge. Guidance was given. Help was at hand for those who may have felt unwell or been injured. We were given guidance on the route. Rest stations provided food and drink. Most importantly, we had the companionship of our teammates and other teams around us. That is what The Mission to Seafarers tries to do around the world: to ensure seafarers and their families have the support and friendship, the rest stops and nourishment, and the guidance and care that can help them along the way and hopefully support them in reaching easier ground.

I also carried with me throughout a woolly bear I have now named Arj (after the Adventure Race Japan, of course). Arj was given to me by Keith Stott, our Honorary Chaplain in Felixstowe. He has a team of volunteers making them, alongside our usual woolly hats. Keith tells me that they are brilliant icebreakers with crew, who love to take them home to their children. The gift often leads to profound conversations about their families. Keith has asked me to take Arj around the world, and this was his first trip.


While the ARJ has been the most high-profile event of the month, I am ever mindful of the extraordinary and often unsung work going on at the front line, in ports, and through our various projects. I am now in the Philippines, in Manila, where I look forward to meeting with and affirming the superb work of our Family Support Network and meeting many of our key partners. Once again, I know I will be inspired, as I always am, by the commitment, creativity, compassion, and care of our staff and volunteers. I have so much respect for all who work with us and all who support us. With every blessing.

The Revd Canon Andrew Wright

Secretary General

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