On 13 October 2020, The Mission to Seafarers Chaplain in Southampton, John Attenborough became the recipient of the Thomas Gray Silver medal award.
The award which recognises exceptional deeds of merit at sea was awarded to John for his service to the welfare of seafarers over the past 26 years, and most recently his role supporting seafarers in Southampton during the pandemic.
In his acceptance speech, John said: “I’d like to share this medal with my team of volunteers. They’ve been really wonderful in how they’ve also supported seafarers alongside me. Because without their encouragement and wonderful sacrifice, I couldn’t do what I do”
John has been making a difference to the lives of seafarers all over the world since the beginning of his career in the maritime welfare sector as a chaplaincy assistant for The Mission to Seafarers in Mombasa. From there he moved to Antwerp in Belgium and then to Tilbury, before joining the team in Southampton in 2014.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, John has been courageously supporting seafarers by visiting them safely on the ship gangways, determined to meet their needs and care for them. John’s continued presence in the port has reassured seafarers, especially those who feel abandoned and cut off from home and family. He has also been a source of practical and emotional support for many seafarers who are unable to return home because of the delays in crew changes.
John has quietly been saving the lives of seafarers through ship visiting, offering practical and spiritual support, facilitating the delivery of life-saving medications and much much more. This award allows his effort to be recognised in by people within and outside of the industry. Through his service, John has demonstrated the need to support the industry’s most valuable asset: its people. We are both proud of him and inspired by his hard work and devotion to others. Well done, John!