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Sarah from Stena Ferry Goes Extra Mile to Visit Mercy Ships Hospital in Africa

15th November 2018
Sarah Scowcroft a Stena Line cabin assistant, on board hospital ship Africa Mercy in Guinea, has vowed to raise funds for Mercy Ships for the rest of her life after experiencing first-hand the life-saving work carried out on by the charity.  The ferry operator is a supporter of the charity and up to 27 November, customers on all Stena Line vessels will be encouraged to 'Round Up for Charity' with their on board purchases and make a donation to Mercy Ships. Sarah Scowcroft a Stena Line cabin assistant, on board hospital ship Africa Mercy in Guinea, has vowed to raise funds for Mercy Ships for the rest of her life after experiencing first-hand the life-saving work carried out on by the charity. The ferry operator is a supporter of the charity and up to 27 November, customers on all Stena Line vessels will be encouraged to 'Round Up for Charity' with their on board purchases and make a donation to Mercy Ships. Photo: Stena /Mercy Ships

#Ferry - Sarah Scowcroft a kind-hearted Stena Line cabin assistant, has vowed to raise funds for Mercy Ships for the rest of her life, after experiencing first-hand life-saving work carried out on board hospital ship Africa Mercy in Guinea.

Last year, as part of a donation campaign for Stena Line’s designated charity Mercy Ships, Sarah who works on the Stena Superfast X between Dublin and Holyhead, and a team of colleagues raised £7,414.96 by organising a 34-mile charity walk around the Scottish Lakes. This figure was then doubled by Stena Line Chairman Dan Sten Olsson.

In recognition of the great strides made by Sarah in her fund-raising efforts, she was invited to visit the Africa Mercy ship to witness how the money raised is being used – an experience that she says she will never forget. “I can’t think of words to describe the experience,” said Sarah. “The work they do is amazing, and it is not until you get there that you realise how big an operation it is.

“It’s not only this huge hospital ship on which they perform surgeries, but also tents and buildings ashore where they set up an eye clinic, a dental clinic and waiting rooms that are packed with people every day waiting to get help.

“During my visit I got to see a surgery being performed, met patients and heard all of their stories. It was very emotional, but it also made feel good to know we are a part of this. Our input might be small on the massive scale, but it has real impact,” she added.

One of the essential ideas behind Mercy Ships is that when the ship moves on, its legacy and good work remains, so the charity helps build better medical facilities, provides medical tools and resources, and offers specialised training to local health professionals. In Guinea, Mercy Ships built a dental clinic next to the university where a number of dentists are training, and also established a Hospital Out-Patient Extension (HOPE) centre to provide housing for patients and caregivers.

“Visiting the HOPE Centre was one of my best experiences, and we got to play with the children who were recovering there,” continued Sarah.

“To see first-hand the amazing work that Mercy Ships carries out was a truly life-changing experience and has made me realise that I need to do something for Mercy Ships every year now, for the rest of my life.

“I’ve been talking about it with the crew since I got back home, and it’ll be hard to top the 34 mile hike from last year, but we’ll figure something out,” she said.

Ian Hampton, Chief People & Communications Officer for Stena Line said: “We support Mercy Ships because we care about people and the world around us. The engagement from Sarah and her colleagues is an example of our colleagues living our company values. We are delighted that Sarah was given this opportunity to visit Africa Mercy and see how the money raised is being used to make a difference on board the hospital ship."

Sarah’s first initiative to raise money for Mercy Ships was in 2017 when she and a small group of fellow employees participated in a 25-mile charity hike.

Last year’s 34-mile (55 km) hike, ‘The Three Loch Way’, usually takes three to four days to complete, but the group decided to do it in one – with a goal of raising £2,000.

“In the end it took us 12.5 hours and it was the toughest thing anyone of us have ever done, but the feeling when we finished was amazing,” explained Sarah. “It was made even more fantastic to know that we more than tripled our original goal, which made all the blisters worthwhile.”

Published in Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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