Tribute honouring 'forgotten' seafarers
A PERMANENT memorial to merchant seafarers is taking shape at Point Danger.
Members of the SEQ Vindicatrix and MN Mariners Association have raised $25,000 in two and a half years to erect the monument, which they hope will be dedicated on September 3.
TS Vindicatrix was the name of a sea training school in Gloucestershire, UK.
Mariners Association secretary and Gold Coast resident Terry Docker began his eight-week training in the catering department in May 1955.
"These were exciting times for a young lad - an opportunity to see the world and get paid for it,” he said.
"Rock'n'roll was making its debut, the world was having its usual military flare-ups but all that seemed so far away - until we sailed into it.”
At the sod turning on April 10, association president Brian Hunt said the memorial being built was made from an old anchor and would be in memory of merchant mariners from all over the world who had died since 1788.
"All the 2000 visitors a day to Point Danger can see what the merchant navy means to us,” he said.
"We started fundraising in June 2015. (It was) very hard going as the general public seem not to have a lot of sympathy for the deceased.
"We quickly turned to the Federal and State governments for grants, also the local government where we were much more successful,” he said.
"We were very lucky in being introduced to a benefactor who put up the collateral for us to apply for government grants on a dollar-for-dollar basis.
"We then went into Bunnings sausage sizzles, bowls days at Condong Bowls Club and our own barbecue and fundraising activities.”
Mr Hunt said it was estimated more than 100,000 merchant mariners had died since 1788 - 40,000 in the Second World War.
"Point Danger was chosen because of its proximity to the sea. It's alongside the Captain Cook memorial - he also learned his sea craft as a merchant seaman,” he said.
The anchor centrepiece of the memorial will be in sight of where it met its demise 137 years ago.
"We have endeavoured to bring to the notice of the general public the importance of the merchant navy, known as the 'forgotten service',” Mr Hunt said.
"Although recognised as the fourth arm of her Majesty's forces, not a lot of people recognise that fact.”
Mr Hunt joined the "fourth arm” in 1951 and trained in the catering department.
"I sailed on tramp steamers for three years, seeing 75% of the world,” he said. "My last deep-sea trip was to South America in 1958.”
The Point Danger monument will have the involvement of local tradies and the Gold Coast City Council, Gary Fidler Architect, Boyds Bay Group as the builders, Palmer Flags, Chris Morrissey Tiling and Neumanns of Currumbin for the restoration of the anchor.