THURROCK MP Jackie Doyle Price joined seafarers and port representatives at London Tilbury Seafarers Centre recently for the opening of the centre’s new £50,000 basketball court and sports area.
The new basketball court and recreation area for seafarers doubles as a football pitch at the centre, a 24-hour “safe haven” where port visitors can unwind, socialise and enjoy free wifi to contact their families back home. The facilities also include an outdoor table tennis table, seating area, water feature and gazebo.
A chaplain at the centre had the idea to add a basketball court after he noticed a ship’s crew had erected a makeshift basketball hoop and net on one side of the vessel and realised they needed a permanent court.
Jackie Doyle Price said: “This is what the seafarers needed. Assembling the funds for this development wasn’t simple, it took determination and the centre’s strong track record delivering what seafarers need.
“You only have to see the pleasure that this facility gives port visitors, away from their ships for just a few hours, to know that it’s a tremendous asset.”
Alex Campbell, chief executive of Queen Victoria Seamen’s Rest, the charity that runs the Tilbury centre, which completed the basketball court in nine months, said: “We’ve never done a project like this before. Seafarers spend up to nine months away from home, so this new facility provides a welcome opportunity for fun and exercise. We’re so grateful for the support of the partners who turned the vision for this facility into reality.”
After the ceremony, guests joined crew from the ship Gerda and bulk carrier, White Rose, to try out the new facilities.