Bishop Julie and Bishop Sam enjoyed a tour of Cammell Laird shipyard and a briefing from Mersey Meritim CEO on Wednesday 2 February 2022 as part of a series of visits around the diocese to familiarise themselves with local businesses, organisations and significant industries.
Mersey Maritime CEO, Chris Shirling-Rooke, and Head of Policy and Partnerships, Simon Eardley, briefed both bishops on the work it does as a leading regional cluster organisation in the area and the role it plays in championing the industry locally to help secure jobs and regeneration for coastal communities. This was followed by a visit to the Cammell Laird shipyard where Bishops Julie and Sam were given a presentation on the RRS Sir David Attenborough project, undertook a tour of the site to see for themselves current projects, and then met a team of apprentices. The day ended with a briefing on the Wirral Waters regeneration in the Birkenhead Docks area.
Chris Shirling-Rooke, Bishop Julie, Bishop Sam, and Simon Eardley
Chris Shirling-Rooke says: “We were delighted to welcome Bishops Julie and Sam to Mersey Maritime and to give them a snapshot into why our industry matters so much to the area in which they are now serving. Maritime has a deep and long attachment to this region but it never rests on its laurels and is always looking to the future. As we respond to the big challenges of our time, from decarbonisation through to how we bring about regeneration in coastal communities, the range and depth of our work is both exciting to see and something we are very proud of. Mersey Maritime sits at the heart of a diverse sector – from our ports through to shipbuilders like Cammell Laird, maritime business services and partners such as Peel L&P who are delivering the most exciting regeneration project in the North West at Wirral Waters. Our story is a great one and something we are always keen to tell. Engaging with faith leaders in our region was a real pleasure for us and we look forward to future opportunities to showcase our fantastic industry in the years ahead.”
Bishop Julie says: “The Diocese of Chester can’t escape water and the significance of the maritime industry to our area. We are flanked by the Dee Estuary, the Mersey Estuary and the Manchester Ship Canal and it is a really key source of employment for many people. Maritime is so important for Birkenhead where I also have my home but it isn’t just about the long association of the town and its people from an historical perspective. The industry has an essential role to play in the regeneration of the area and in addressing many of the challenges that communities face locally. I was inspired to see for myself some of the work that is underway, particularly in the Birkenhead docks area with the massive Wirral Waters project which points to a positive future for the community and those who live and work here. I look forward to continuing to engage with the maritime sector in the future and exploring ways to put faith into the mix of projects that are designed to have a big impact on the life chances and opportunities for local people.”
Bishop Sam says: “The range and diversity of industry in the Diocese of Chester never ceases to amaze me! Living in the Greater Manchester area, I’m conscious of the network of waterways that have played a crucial role in our history from the Manchester Ship Canal to the Bridgewater Canal which runs near my home. Maritime and the coast continue to play a significant part in the regional economy, providing highly skilled jobs and opportunities for so many people. It was a particular pleasure for me to meet some of the new apprentices at Cammell Laird who are just embarking on their careers. Often we hear of young people leaving coastal areas to take up jobs elsewhere but the team at the shipyard are testament to the opportunities we have locally for so many of them to enjoy.”
In July 2018, the former Bishop of Birkenhead, Keith Sinclair, led a service of prayer and blessing for the RRS Sir David Attenborough when she was launched from Cammell Laird shipyard into the River Mersey, which, at the time, was the first launch of a commercial ship on Merseyside in 30 years.
Addressing thousands of people at the launch event, Bishop Keith said: “It is a great honour to be asked to pray at the first launch of a commercial ship on Merseyside for over 30 years. The RRS Sir David Attenborough is going to help us appreciate all that has been given to us on this planet and conserve it well. I pay tribute to Cammell Laird who have made today possible. As the Psalmist says: ‘O Lord how magnificent are all your works, in wisdom you have made them all.’”