King George V at the helm of HM Yacht Britannia (Photo courtesy of Seafarers UK)

100 Years Ago: King George's Fund for Sailors founded

Posted on on 05 July 2017
Share |

A charity set up at the height of the First World War to assist families of seafarers lost or injured at sea marks its Centenary today (5 July 2017).

King George V gave his name to what was originally known simply as the Sailors' Fund, reflecting public sentiment for those who were fighting and dying in the stuggle for control of the seas.

King George's Fund for Sailors (now Seafarers UK) was founded in 1917, the year that Britain faced its greatest threat from German U-boats.

Transatlantic convoys were introduced in May 1917 to stem mounting losses of the merchant ships which kept the nation supplied.

For its Centenary, Seafarers UK has produced a timeline of key events and individuals in its history.

Over the past century the charity has provided welfare services for seafarers in, or retired from, the Merchant Navy, Fishing Fleets, Royal Navy and Royal Marines.

Most beneficiaries are still from the UK and Commonwealth countries, although some grants go towards facilities - such as port-based centres - used by other international seafarers.

Rebranded Seafarers UK in 2005, the charity gives grants to help people in the maritime community,'providing vital support to seafarers in need and their families, and to those in education or training who are preparing to work or serve at sea.'

Admiral Lord West, former head of the Royal Navy, said: "Congratulations to Seafarers UK on reaching its Centenary. The make-up and capability of the UK’s maritime sector has changed dramatically since 1917, and whilst we are still very much an island nation with serving seafarers in the Royal Navy, Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets, the numbers of those actively involved is reducing every year.

"Within this context, there is a very important and continued role for Seafarers UK to play, both in helping to raise awareness of the need for, and existence of, training and job opportunities in the maritime sector, and in helping those still serving, but increasingly veterans and ex-seafarers, who have fallen on hard times, and their families."

The charity is fund raising under the Centenary theme 'Supporting Seafarers: Past, Present and Future'. It receives no Government funding. For more information about its work and history, see Seafarers UK.

Read more about Britain's Mercantile Marine and its first convoys here in Centenary News.

Also founded in 1917 were the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Imperial War Museum.

Information & images: Seafarers UK

Posted by: CN Editorial team