The Red Ensign has been raised at Sunderland Civic Centre today to help prepare for Merchant Navy Day this weekend.
Sunderland City Council is supporting the event organised by national charity Seafarers UK, to raise public awareness of the Merchant Navy’s massive contribution to the life of the ‘island nation’ of Great Britain.
Merchant Navy Day was first held in 2000, with the ‘Fly the Red Ensign’ campaign launched last year to remind people of its national significance and encourage their support.
The council is one of the local authorities invited to raise the flag at civic buildings across the country today, to help raise public awareness of Saturday’s commemorative events.
The Red Ensign was raised on the civic centre flag pole outside the council chamber by the Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Alan Emerson, accompanied by Captain Steve Healy of Trinity House in Newcastle, with veterans groups, families and members of the public in attendance to show their support.
Coun said: “I am proud to represent the people of our city at this event, and honoured to raise the famous Red Ensign on their behalf.
“Sunderland is a city by the sea with a rich maritime heritage, and home to a community that recognises and appreciates the contribution made by the Merchant Navy to all our lives.
“I hope people will support Merchant Navy Day, and be encouraged to pay their own personal tributes by seeing the Red Ensign flying proudly at the civic centre over the weekend.”
Before the flag was raised the mayor invited Major Eric Ingram, Deputy Lieutenant for Tyne and Wear, to read out a message from HRH The Earl of Wessex KG, GCVO who is the president of Seafarers UK which raises funds to help seafarers and their families in need.
The message from HRH The Earl of Essex read: “On this Merchant Navy Day, I very much hope you will support this campaign by Seafarers UK to remember the sacrifices, salute the courage and support the future of the often unsung personnel of the Merchant Navy.
“Too often they are the forgotten or invisible service, by raising the Red Ensign you will ensure that at least on this day they are remembered.
“Your act will mean so much to their families and to the retired, but most especially to those at sea.”