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Our local port chaplain receives British Empire Medal


Reverend Roger Stone was recently awarded a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s New Year Honours List for his services to the pastoral care of seafarers. Here, he tells us about why he loves his work and his connection with P&O Cruises

Reverend Roger Stone (second from left) with seafarers

Reverend Roger Stone (second from left) provides pastoral, spiritual and welfare support to seafarers along the south coast of England

Reverend Roger Stone is Regional Port Chaplain with Apostleship of the Sea, a charitable organisation that supports seafarers worldwide. Earlier this year, Roger was awarded a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s New Year Honours List for services to the pastoral care of seafarers.


Since he took up the post in 2010, Roger has provided pastoral, spiritual and welfare support to thousands of crew members who arrive on ships at ports along the south coast of England – including staff on P&O Cruises ships.


‘Roger’s help with our crew members is beyond invaluable,’ says Katrina Raynsford, CARE & Incident Support Manager at Carnival UK. ‘Day or night, all year round, he will assist a landed crew member in Southampton and connect us with his colleagues around the world to ensure the same level of support is given. He visits crew members in hospital or local hotels and will supply phone cards or source a home-cooked dish for them. Most importantly, he not only provides spiritual support but also emotional and welfare support.’ 


Roger works with 18 fellow Apostleship of the Sea chaplains and over 100 volunteer ship welfare visitors, and between them they visit 10,000 ships each year and interact with around 250,000 seafarers. ‘It’s the quality of our visits we focus on,’ he says. ‘It’s not how many, it’s how well we visit the ships. Because we enter into the lives of the people we visit. And they enter into ours.’


As for his motivation, Roger says he’s in part inspired by a higher calling. ‘Apart from the fact that it’s my vocation to serve other people, I think the more I do it, the more I realise there is a deeper, broader, wider, higher need,’ he says. ‘The purpose is to build that human relationship and address that fundamental question we all have, which is, “Does anybody out there love me?”


‘As to what inspires me to do it and why it’s important, in a way it’s all wrapped up in that. It’s important because the seafarers are important. And maybe something you say will make someone’s day that little bit better, or take away that little bit of stress, or even perhaps stop someone doing something stupid or something they will regret.’


Roger’s job has led him to parts of the world – Taiwan, the USA, India, the Philippines – that he never thought he’d see, and provided him with unforgettable experiences. One such experience involved a young man who had reached out to him for help and advice online, and who Roger later had the chance to meet in person. ‘When I was in the Philippines in 2016, on the first morning, I woke up and I wrote on Facebook: “Dito na ako sa Manila!” That means, “Here I am in Manila!” And this young man replied, “Where are you? I’ll be ready in 20 minutes.” He spent the rest of the day showing me around his city. That’s special to me.’


Another memorable relationship was forged with a P&O Cruises crew member. ‘I met a young man who was seriously ill in hospital. I visited him every day for about two and a half months. I’ve since been to India to visit his mother, his girlfriend, his father, his brother – the whole family! We were discussing his future plans to get married, and he asked if I would come to his wedding. I said, “I will if you invite me.” He said, “Why would you need an invitation? You’re a member of our family.” And he means it.’


When Roger learnt he was to receive the British Empire Medal, he says it came as a shock. ‘It came out of absolutely nowhere,’ he says. ‘Here’s this letter from the Cabinet Office saying, “The Prime Minister is going to write a letter to Her Majesty the Queen,” and I thought, “What on earth for?” Because lots of my colleagues do what I do. But somebody recommended me. I don’t know who.’


To Katrina, Roger’s award is far from surprising. ‘Roger shows true humanity in his work,’ she says. ‘He is kind, generous with his time – and someone you can always rely on.’


Find out  more information on the Apostleship of the Sea and how you can support the organisation >