Thursday, 28 July 2016

In safe hands, 250 years of the Liverpool Pilots

Captain Chris Booker planned the visit of the three Cunnard Queens to the River Mersey last year and was himself on board and in charge of the Queen Mary as it turned off Crosby on its way to berth at the Pier Head.
Chris is Chairman of the Liverpool Pilotage Service and I and other Mayors from across the region gathered in Liverpool last week to recognise the important role played by the pilots.
For 250 years the ships entering the River Mersey have had the benefit of a pilot to guide them into harbour. Their professionalism is central to the good name of the port. In wartime and peace their contribution in keeping sailors safe has been enormous.
Much of the shipping activity on the |Mersey takes place in Sefton. The new Port of Liverpool facility which will allow the largest container ships to dock is in Sefton. I was recently at Hugh Baird College to play a part in the opening of the new Port of Liverpool Academy. They have identified a raft of jobs that will be needed in the new port and is offering training from NVQ up to degree level courses to prepare local people to take advantage of the new employment opportunities. At present Felixstowe is the furthest north that these large container ships can dock.
To mark the 250th anniversary the Liverpool Pilotage Service Chris Booker received, on behalf of his members past and present, the highest award the city can bestow. The proceeding began at the Seafarers Church where during a service of thanksgiving- which included the choir singing the introduction to Vaughan Williams Sea Symphony- we learned about the history of the Liverpool Pilots. Sadly too often, especially during the first two centuries, a large number of pilots have lots their lives. In the two great European Wars of the 20th century tragedy struck with a large loss life each time in single incidents. In our borough we should especially remember the Charles Livingston which was driven ashore on Ainsdale beach in a violent storm in 1939 with the loss of twenty three pilots, apprentices and crew.
During the service Waterloo based  mezzo soprano Danielle Louise Thomas sang  Bring him Home. Danielle-Louise sang in the charity concert in Blundelsands given by the Amadeus Chamber Choir and it is always a pleasure to meet her.

After the church service there was Civic Reception for the 56 current pilots and members of the Retired Pilots Association including several from our borough where we were entertained by the Port Sunlight Sea Dogs It takes seven years to train of a pilot and they are recruited from the ranks of Master Mariners. Chris Booker and his colleagues will have an important role to play in the new Port of Liverpool- the success of which is central to this areas prosperity in the 21st century.

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