SOMEWHERE in Greece, there’s a merchant seaman who reckons Portlanders are just about the nicest people on the planet.
At Monday’s 50th anniversary celebrations for Portland’s Mission to Seafarers, manager Neville Manson told a story to about 35 guests, a tale that neatly encapsulates what the mission is all about.
“A Greek ship arrived in port and one of the crewmen had a very serious skin rash that could have been debilitating,” Mr Manson recalled. “He was terrified the condition would cause him to lose his job. We took him to a doctor here who said he’d have to urgently see a specialist in Geelong. One of our volunteers drove him over there and the whole way this crewman was very nervous about his future, almost suicidal.
“By an amazing coincidence, the Geelong specialist was also of Greek ancestry, so he and his patient got along very well. The specialist charged a reduced fee, which we helped to pay, and the man returned to his vessel, cured. He and his captain were ecstatically happy about the way it all turned out. We saved his job and maybe his life, he was that distressed.”
Perhaps not always as dramatically, but for half a century the mission has been offering refuge, comfort and kindness to thousands of merchant seafarers who visit the port every year.
The new Anglican Bishop of Ballarat, Garry Weatherill, also spoke at the function. For 10 years he has also served as Australian chair of the Mission to Seafarers, so he is exceptionally well aware of its good works.
Read more in Wednesday’s edition of the Portland Observer.