Maritime Charity Makes History With First Virtual AGM

Maritime care charity The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society has held its 154th Annual General Meeting remotely for the first time in its 155-year history, with supporters and Trustees joining the meeting via video conference services due to current COVID-19 restrictions.

The Surrey-based care home operator and charity has provided housing, residential and nursing care to former seafarers, their widows and dependants since 1865 and is incorporated under Royal Charter with HRH The Princess Royal as its patron.

This year, Trustees, Heads of Department, and the Senior Management Team – along with the Society’s Vice Patron, the Earl of Inchcape – were invited to celebrate the annual event digitally via video conference where they discussed the impact of the virus on the Society, as well as improvements to the charity’s home and grounds, and plans for a new refurbishment project to further enhance facilities.

Staff were commended for their response efforts during the pandemic, many of whom spent prolonged time away from loved ones and families in order to care for residents at the Society’s home, Belvedere House, in Surrey.

Chairman of the Society, Lt Cdr Phillip Wake OBE RD* FNI RNR, also launched an interactive version of the Society’s 2019 Annual Report, with the aim to make it more accessible to a wider audience.

Several members of the Board of Management were re-elected for a further three years in support of the Society, including Cllr Mrs Dorothy Ross-Tomlin, Dr Richard Reubin, Cdr Susan Lochner JP DL RN and Mr Andrew Parker. Along with Mr Peter Seager, Mrs Diana Parker and Captain Malcolm Lowle who were co-opted for a further year as members of the Weston Acres Visiting Committee. Honorary Treasurer, Mr Bernie Watson, was appointed for another year and the Reverend Canon Bill Christianson is to be appointed as the Honorary Chaplain of the Society.

Chaired by the Society’s president, the Viscount Cobham, this year’s event was certainly different to the usual AGM held by the charity, where last year its Patron, HRH The Princess Royal, attended when it was held at Trinity House in London.

Commander Brian Boxall-Hunt, CEO at The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, said: “Our Annual General Meeting is an important part of the Society’s events calendar and this year, like many other organisations, we have decided to carry this out remotely in order to ensure social distancing measures could be observed and to prioritise the health and safety of our supporters.

“Looking back at this time last year, it seems as though we lived in another world and of course Belvedere House, like so many other care homes, has been touched by this cruel virus. One thing that makes me extremely proud is the way that we have all come together over these months and assisted each other through a very difficult time, and I’m reminded of this as I see everyone’s faces today on my screen, united in support for our charity which does such amazing work caring for former seafarers.”

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