Priest in call to sea tragedy relatives

The Rev Chris Collison with the Merchant Seamen's Memorial in the background
The Rev Chris Collison with the Merchant Seamen's Memorial in the background

RELATIVES of merchant seafarers and fishermen who have lost their lives at sea are being asked to come forward ahead of a memorial service planned for later this year.

Maritime ministries in Hartlepool and across Teesside are organising the service which will be held at the Merchant Seamen’s Memorial, at the end of Jackson’s Landing, in the town.  The Reverend Chris Collison, priest-in-charge at St Hilda’s Church, on the Headland, feels it is apt for the service to be held around the memorial.

But he is asking for help in searching for the relatives of any local people listed on the plaques who died at sea.  Mr Collison, 64, who is also the Hartlepool and the North Tees chaplain for Mission to Seafarers, an organisation which offers assistance and support to crews visiting ports around the world, said he knows very little about the memorial and the people who are listed on it. His predecessor, Ken Cornforth, who retired to live in Spain but still works as an IT consultant for Mission to Seafarers, said as far as he is aware the names on the memorial are of merchant seafarers from Hartlepool who died at sea during war, fishermen or members of the public who also lost their lives at sea.  Mr Collison, a dad of two and granddad of one who lives on the Headland with wife, Anne, 50, is now hoping to track down the relatives of those people and is inviting them to the memorial service.  He said: “We don’t want these people to be forgotten. I would love to find out more about these people who are listed on the plaque and it would be fantastic if the relatives could come to the memorial service, they are more than welcome.  “It would be great if relatives have any photographs, memorabilia or medals that they could bring along with them.”  The service is being held on Sunday, July 2, known as Sea Sunday where churches around the world remember those who lost their lives at sea.

The service starts at 3pm and will include a remembrance of past seafarers and a celebration of seafarers today. Music will be led by the Billingham Silver Band.  Mr Collison said: “The service is a chance to remember these people and remember that seafarers always take risks.

Anyone who has any information about local merchant seamen who lost their lives or wanting more information about the service should call Mr Collison on (01429) 267030.

Alternatively email revchris@hartlepool-sthilda.org.uk.