Portsmouth remembers those who have died at sea in 'emotional' seafarers' service
Earlier today, armed forces veterans, dignitaries and religious officials were joined by members of the public for the city’s annual seafarers’ service.
In a tradition rather unique to Portsmouth, those who played key roles in the event spoke of the ever-prominent importance of marine industries to the city, and why we must continue to commemorate their sacrifices.
Alongside those who have lost their lives, the service commemorates the hard work of those who live at sea, from Royal Navy personnel to fisherman and ferry workers.
The church service began with a prayer from the Dean of Portsmouth, Canon Dr Anthony Cane.
He said: ‘We meet today to pray for all whose business is the sea – the men and woman of the royal and merchant navies, those who work in our docks and marinas, all those who fish from our local harbours, those employed with the commercial ferry companies and at Portsmouth International Port.
‘We pray for those who work in the air sea rescue services, for our lifeboats, lifeboats and coastguards.
‘As we remember them and their families and friends, that they may be supported through every difficulty, we ask for God’s mercy and protection through the coming year.’
Songs from the cathedral’s choir followed, with bible readings, hymns and prayers.
A procession then took dignitaries and their wreaths to the Nelson statue in Grand Parade.
Speaking after the ceremony, leader of Portsmouth City Council, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, paid tribute to those who spend their lives at sea.
He said: ‘I have been coming to this for 20 years – at the end of the day we are a city by the sea and the water gives us purpose. People sailed from here in centuries gone by to sail around the world, with limited navigation, it's quite frightening really.
‘It’s important to celebrate that but also commemorate people’s lives and remember how dangerous the sea can be.
‘This service is one of the things Portsmouth does really well. We certainly value our history in this city and celebrate it well.’
Deputy Liberal Democrat leader, Cllr Suzy Horton, added: ‘It was a brilliant service, this is always one of my favourite ceremonies of the year because it’s so symbolic.
‘As a seaside city with the Royal Navy and all the people who work at sea it’s lovely to remember them all.
‘There is something so poignant about having the cathedral so close to the sea, allowing us to do a service like this right by the water.’
At the end of the ceremony, The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Cllr Hugh Mason, threw a wreath into the Solent to commemorate everyone who has lost their life at sea.
He said: ‘This ceremony is very special because signifies the link between Portsmouth and the sea – not just the Royal Navy but the whole community that serves the sea.’