Sunderland’s Stella Maris Seafarers’ Centre is a charity based at the Port of Sunderland that provides welfare services to ships’ crews from around the world.

For over a decade now, the centre been a comfort to seafarers who are far from their homes and families and may be in need of a bit of support and a friendly face.

Though owned by Sunderland City Council, the centre is run voluntarily by Sister Mary Scholastica from the Catholic charity Apostles of the Sea, which cares for seafarers of all faiths.

The charity collects donations of confectionary, toiletries, warm clothes and anything else that might help make the stays of seafarers in Sunderland more comfortable.

But, in addition to the above, there are certain items that are frequently requested – strips, clothing and memorabilia connected with Sunderland Association Football Club.

Sailors see such items as precious reminders of their stays in Sunderland and of the warmth and hospitality of its people.

Sister Scholastica, who is a massive Sunderland fan, has asked ex-Sunderland player and 1973 FA Cup winner Micky Horswill to appeal for more Sunderland strips to be donated to the Stella Maris Seafarers’ Centre.

Micky Horswill – who is also this year’s Mayoral Consort – said, “We first met at last year’s Remembrance Parade and quickly got talking through our shared love of all things Sunderland Association Football Club.”

“Sister Scholastica even told me she has a photograph of me up on her wall in my Sunderland strip, but when I asked her how high up, she said it was obviously below a picture of Jesus.”

“Now the sister has asked if the mayor’s office can help appeal for more strips, with interest in the club continuing to grow across the world as the club prepares for yet another cup final (of the Checkatrade Trophy), with television images of the game broadcast in the home countries of the seafarers who’ll proudly wear the shirts.”

Sister Scholastica said, “First of all, I’d like to thank the people of Sunderland for their amazing generosity over the years. None of our work would be possible at the Seafarers’ Centre without your support.”

“Since we set up in 2008, we’ve provided crews from all over the world with the warmest welcome that we can on behalf of the city when they first arrive at the Port of Sunderland.”

“Along with some of the essentials that we can provide through donations from across the community such as warm clothing, toiletries and access to the Internet and phone cards, are Sunderland football strips, scarves and coats.”

Matthew Hunt, the director of the Port of Sunderland, said, “Sister Scholastica is a one-off – a tireless worker, a constant support and city ambassador. We’re incredibly lucky and grateful to have her as part of the port’s team.”

“She has turned the Stella Maris Seafarers’ Centre into a haven for seafarers and her efforts never fail to impress the crews and have made her a popular fixture at the port.”

“There is a wonderful message of warmth and welcome being extended from Sunderland.”

If you would like to donate Sunderland strips or clothing to the Stella Maris Seafarers’ Centre, please email or drop the items off at the main reception of Sunderland Civic Centre.

(Featured image courtesy of vagueonthehow, from Flickr Creative Commons)

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