ON March 8, Yvonne Penn of the Sailors' Society gave us a fascinating talk about the work the interdenominational Christian charity does to help the maritime community, a subject of which we landlubbers of the Midlands probably had little knowledge. It is the oldest maritime charity, founded by George Charles Smith in 1818 and will be celebrating its bicentenary in a few days' time. The conditions under which sailors are employed amounts in many cases to exploitation and the industry has a very high suicide rate. Most crews are foreign, 60% Filipino. English is the language of the sea and is the only language allowed on board which can cause tensions if a ship has a mixed race crew as they have to converse with their compatriots in a foreign language.

When crews are in port the Sailors' Society provides help with mobile phone cards to enable crews to communicate with their families and liaises with the International Transport Federation trade union in cases of contractual disputes like crews not getting paid. It provides coffee shops ashore where crews can relax and talk to people whose only aim is to provide support and sort out problems. Its principles can be summed up as "love and care", essential for people so far from home. Its work is co-ordinated with overseas organisations and it was sobering to learn that piracy is still a problem off East Africa and South East Asia. The work done by the charity's ship's visitors made a deep impression on members.

We meet at 10am every Thursday at The Boathouse, Evesham Rowing Club.

Our talk on March 15 will be about Sister Edith Appleton - WW1 Nurse at the Front and on March 22 our President will host a pub quiz.

Full details can be found on our website www.eveshamprobus.co.uk.