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Stepping out and stepping up in support of stranded seafarers

PLA staff’s online fundraiser to help estimated 150,000 crew members unable to return home due to COVID-19 lockdowns

Boats, bikes and boots - and a horse - have helped Port of London Authority (PLA) staff reach the halfway point in a virtual voyage around the world, via other trading hubs, raising money to help seafarers stranded by COVID-19.

Since Easter, the 400-strong workforce has been totting up the miles they have covered, both afloat for work, keeping the port open for trade, and for relaxation - walking, running and cycling.

They are aiming to raise £1,500 for the Mission to Seafarers, supporting crews stranded away from home by COVID-19 lockdowns. The campaign group Human Rights at Sea reported (14 May) that an estimated 150,000 seafarers around the world are currently unable to return to their loved ones after ending long contracts, and face an uncertain future.

Heading into the bank holiday weekend, the PLA team’s online global journey sees them fast approaching Sydney, 16,340 miles from their starting point, the company’s headquarters at Royal Terrace Pier in Gravesend, Kent.

Their efforts have now inspired others in the sector to join in, with employees of Cory Brothers Shipping Agency and trade association the United Kingdom Major Ports Group (UKMPG) among those accepting the challenge to “catch us if you can.”

PLA chief executive, Robin Mortimer, has contributed over 130 miles to the tally, mainly by bike. He said: “This started as a way of encouraging all our employees to keep both physically and mentally fit during the COVID-19 crisis.

“It’s involved both our front-line staff, who have done a sterling job keeping the river safe for vessels transporting key supplies in and out of port, and back-office teams, who have been working from home now for nearly eight weeks.

“The motivation to exercise regularly during lockdown has been a key factor, but sharing stories across the company has also buoyed morale and helped people feel connected in very challenging times.

"Added to this, we are raising much-needed funds to help the Mission to Seafarers with their work supporting crews on vessels all around the world, who continue to play such a vital, but often overlooked, role in keeping us all supplied with food, fuel, medicines and other key goods."

Sights and sounds enjoyed by the PLA team on their travels across the country, include tranquil sunrises over the river, seals on the estuary, an eerily quiet central London and spring bluebell woods in full bloom.

You can make a donation towards the PLA team’s fundraising effort via Just Giving and track progress on this page.


Picture and video available, showing PLA staff in action on their online global journey.

For further information, please contact: Lauren Hoven (079333 97825), or Nick Tennant: (07784 208074).

  • Founded in 1856 and funded entirely by voluntary donations, The Mission to Seafarers offers emergency assistance and support to crews of all rank, nationality and belief from around the world, whether victims of piracy, shipwrecked or stranded.
  • The PLA works to ensure navigational safety along the tidal Thames, stretching 95 miles, from Teddington to the North Sea. It shares its marine, environmental, planning and other expertise to promote use of the river and safeguard its unique marine environment. The tidal Thames is one of the UK’s busiest waterways and is home to the country’s second biggest port by tonnage of goods handled.