Eight years ago Group Scouter Liz Scateswood initiated a Christmas mug project to bring some cheer to the sailors aboard the ships in the Port of Richards Bay.
Having travelled extensively for 17 years at sea with her Chief Engineer husband and two sons Mark and Paul she knows how lonely it gets being so far from family and loved ones especially over Christmas. “The idea of bringing some cheer to the sailors in Port became a reality and 1st Richards Bay Sea Scout Group took up the challenge of the Mug Project whereby we fill with a coffee mug with several items including a packs of playing cards, key rings biscuits, sweets and snacks,” she explains. “This year we have also added toothbrushes, toothpaste and face cloths.”
To achieve this all shipping agencies are targeted during October and November and donations of mugs, gift tags and cash are collected. Liz does the shopping and parents, Cubs and Scouts set aside days to do the filling, wrapping and gift tagging.
At 14h00 on the day of Christmas Eve – 24 December – the Scouts and Cubs gather at the gate of the Port and wait for the Municipal fire engine to arrive. They then climb aboard and ride up to the quays where the ships are berthed. “All work has ceased in the Port from noon so with all sirens and bells ringing the Cubs and Scouts arrive at the ships and the distribution of the mugs begins,” continues Liz. “It is so exciting! The children then go up the gangway and hand over the mugs to the Captain and Crew Members of the vessels. It is so nice to see how much fun the Cubs and Scouts have and how appreciated the seafarers feel. Most difficult part of the exercise is getting the children back down again as they are being shown around the bridge and chatting to everyone. We then move on to next vessel.”
“Last year we were able to distribute 460 mugs, every sailor receives a mug of their own,” states Liz. “This year our aim is to provide 500 mugs to about 24 ships. The Captains will also receive an extra small gift with a letter of welcome from the 1st Richards Bay Sea Scout Group.This year we will also have a very special guest”, Liz adds, “Father Christmas will be coming along to share in the festive goodwill spirit!
When asked how she would like to see the project grow, she says “This is a project that should be flying along the coast of South Africa! I would encourage other Sea Scout Groups to spread the cheer in their harbour next year too and ‘MUG A SAILOR TODAY’! “
Liz is the holder of the Bar to the Long Service Medal , the Bar to the Medal of Merit and has two sons Mark and Paul both Springbok Scouts.