“As far as we know this is the only church service that will recognise the men and women who built the ships that protected us in the Great War,” said Rev David Gifford, Rector of St Mary’s Episcopal Church, Port Glasgow.
The Service at St Mary’s, formerly situated outside Fergusons shipyard, has a strong connection with the yards of the lower and upper Clyde. Most of the congregation – both men and women had worked there throughout the church’s history which began in 1850 by one of Florence Nightingale’s nurses.
The special guests at the service held on Sunday 7th October included Renfrewshire’s Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Peter McCarthy, The Provost and Councillors of Inverclyde, Rear Admiral John Weale OBE, Stuart Macmillan MSP, representatives of Clyde shipyards past and present, and the officers and cadets of TS Gold Rover, Greenock, led by Lt Cdrs Michael O’Connor and Jim Hearle.
The preacher was the Rev Robert Jackson, RN Senior Chaplain of HMNB Clyde at Faslane.
“It was an extremely moving service tinged with great pride,” commented John Laverty, Rector’s Warden at St Mary’s. “The Sea Cadets presented their colours with real solemnity and then laid four boxes on four tartan cushions on the High Altar. The boxes contained the names of all Clyde-built ships that were lost during the First World War and the number of souls who perished with them.”
St Mary’s hold a monthly Lunch club for former shipyard workers started jointly by Mr Gifford and the Late Sir Eric Yarrow in 2014. “Not all of the 90 plus members could make the service on Sunday,” Mr Gifford said, “but all felt it was important to recognise the contribution of the shipyards in the centenary year of the end of the Great War, especially together with members of the Royal and Merchant Navies.”