SUNDERLAND’S STELLA MARIS SEAFARERS’ CENTRE is getting into the cup-final spirit.

The centre based at Port of Sunderland provides welfare services for ship’s crews from around the world miles away from their homes and families, and in need of comfort, support and a friendly face.

Owned by Sunderland City Council, the centre is run voluntarily by Sister Mary Scholastica from the Catholic Charity Apostleship of the Sea which provides pastoral and practical care to seafarers of all faiths.

Sister Scholastica collects donations of confectionary, toiletries, warm clothing and anything which might help make life more comfortable for the seafarers during their stay, from across the community.

Particularly popular with the seafarers is Sunderland Association Football Club (SAFC) clothing and memorabilia, as a reminder of their stay in the port and a demonstration of loyalty to the city and community which made them feel welcome.

Sister Scholastica is a huge Sunderland fan and has asked one of her greatest footballing heroes 1973 FA Cup winner – and this year’s Mayoral Consort – Micky Horswill to help appeal for more Sunderland strips to be donated to the Seafarers’ Centre.

The Mayoral Consort, Micky Horswill said: “We first met at last year’s Remembrance Parade and quickly got talking through our shared love for all things Sunderland Association Football Club.

“Sister Scholastica even told me she had a photograph of me up on her wall in my Sunderland strip, but when I asked how high up, she said it was obviously below a picture of Jesus.

“Now the Sister has asked if the Mayor’s office can help appeal for more strips, with interest in the club continuing to grow across the world as the club prepares for yet another cup final, with television images of the game broadcast in the home countries of the seafarers who’ll proudly wear the shirts.”

Sister Scholastica added: “First of all I’d like to thank the people of Sunderland for their amazing generosity over the years, none of our work at the Seafarer’s Centre would be possible without your support.

“Since we set up in 2008, we’ve provided crews from all over the world with the warmest welcome that we can on behalf of the city when they first arrive at Port of Sunderland.

“Along with some of the essentials that we can provide through donations from across the community such as warm clothing, toiletries and access to the internet and phone cards, are Sunderland football strips, scarves and coats.”

Port of Sunderland Director, Matthew Hunt, said: “Sister Scholastica is a one-off – a tireless worker, a constant support and a passionate city ambassador. We’re incredibly lucky and grateful to have her as part of the port’s team

“She has turned Stella Maris Seafarer’s Centre into a haven for seafarers and her efforts never fail to impress the crews and have made her a popular fixture at the port. There is a wonderful message of warmth and welcome being extended from Sunderland.”

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