Being a member of the Honourable Company allows you to gain many experiences that you might otherwise not enjoy. From attendance at the Lord Mayor’s Show to changing Government policy, joining in this community of your peers is a unique experience.
Three main strands form the basis of your membership are represented by those that underpin any livery company, professional representation, education and training, and charitable giving.
Sir John Stuttard, Lord Mayor of London, 2006-7 explained these roles in his remarks during the opening ceremony for World Maritime Day 2007:
“In this modern world where satellite communication provides instant and continuous contact, I am often asked what is the point of livery companies, what relevance can a system founded in the middle ages have in today’s society?
My answer is that the traditions of the livery abound in every activity that is showcased here today.
A livery company has three founding centres, a professional activities, an educative role and charitable giving. From the Round Table group of international organisations to the professional societies, we can all see how the technical standards of this industry are set, regulated and maintained. Education and proper training is key to all growth. Having a skilled work force trained in up to date techniques is vital to maintaining quality. The maritime charities are there to help those that need just that little bit of assistance and to allow others to achieve their potential. So you can see how a livery company is representative of its trade.”
But there is also a vitally important fourth benefit and this is the fraternal aspect of joining a community of your peers.
All of our members possess huge amounts of knowledge and experience relating to the maritime industry. We have members who work at the highest levels of the legal profession, in government agencies, in ports, as pilots, as business leaders and as masters of the largest and most complex ships ever seen. And all are united by their underpinning knowledge of the sea and are able to apply that knowledge in a way only seafarers can, practically, diligently and efficiently, using only the resources close at hand.
This breadth and depth of knowledge is then applied to the issues facing our industry. From minor corrections to M Notices to submissions to Government. Your skills are made use of and are vital to ensuring an authentic voice of the seafarer is heard at all levels. Through membership of the Honourable Company, you can have an input and add to the voice of first reference.
Education and Training:
It is an underpinning tenet of the seafarer that you should train your relief. To this end we provide funds to train British Deck Cadets, organise conferences and mentor cadets and junior officers.
The training of the officers of the future is of vital importance, not only because this is where the future membership comes from, but far more importantly, as an island nation, we need highly qualified seafarers to take up the strategic roles that only seafarers can fill. Trade will always be carried on ships and so we need the infrastructure to ensure the safe and efficient handling of our trade. This trade needs to carried securely and so we will always need the Royal Navy to keep the seas free of threats. So we must, and do, directly support the education and training of the next generation of seafarers.
Members of a Livery Company are masters of their trade. Only those with the highest skills were allowed to join their Guild. This is part of the founding traditions of livery companies. But there was always the obligation for the master craftsman to pass those skills to an apprentice. The Honourable Company maintains this tradition through its apprentice scheme. Cadets, midshipmen and junior officers apply to join this scheme and they are paired with a mentor. This mentor then guides and assists them through their training until they are able to join the Honourable Company as master mariners.
We all need support and assistance from time to time. No one likes to think that they will fall upon hard times, but it happens and this is where the Honourable Company tries to help. We administer a small number of charities which provide relief to seafarers in time of distress. We have helped with the purchase of mobility equipment, contributed funds to studies and helped with unexpected bills.
The charities are administered by small committees of seafarers who understand the needs of their community. But this community is larger than just members of the Honourable Company, any British seafarer may apply for relief.
Seafarers are a clannish lot. Get a group of them together and within a short time the sea stories start (some of which are even true). But all is fun. Seafarers understand what it means to go to sea, the demands upon the individual and the bond that is formed between them. You may be working in very different parts of the maritime industry, but seafarers all have the sea in common and this brings a uniquely fulfilling aspect to all of our functions. Whether you are at one of our outports around the country, or dining onboard Wellington, you are assured of a warm welcome from your friends.