Winning an award was the furthest thing from Doug Duncan’s mind when he first began supporting the crew of the Malaviya Seven ship back in June 2016.
But on November 4th, the Aberdeen port chaplain from seafarers’ Catholic charity Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) swapped his hardhat and hi-viz jacket for black tie, and picked-up the Award for Tourism and Hospitality Award at the Pride of Aberdeen Awards 2017.
The winners were announced during a ceremony at the Aberdeen Beach Ballroom. The win, following a vote by the public, came as a surprise to Doug.
“I’d like to thank everyone who voted for me. It came as a huge surprise when my name was called out. While I’m grateful for being chosen, we must not forget the many others from local parishes, communities and groups who were involved in the support of the Malaviya Seven crew,” said Doug.
Little did Doug know that receiving a phone call on the evening of June 14th 2016 asking him to be available during the night to a ship arriving into Aberdeen would be the start of an 18-month ordeal for its crew.
For more than a year, Doug and his team have provided practical and pastoral support daily to the seafarers who were left to fend for themselves.
This included providing a generator to ensure heat and electricity, food parcels, toiletries, warm clothing and other practical things such as getting the men haircuts and dentist appointments, to ensure their extended stay in the Granite City was made as comfortable as possible.
More than that, Doug realised what the crew needed was friendship and emotional support, so he arranged for days out to local tourist attractions such as Balmoral, Crathie, Fyvie and Dunnotar castles, and nearby cities and villages including Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Stonehaven. They also went to Pittodrie Stadium and to an indoor cricket match.
Doug also took them to Mass, the Stations of the Cross during the Lenten period, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services and Easter Mass during Lent and Easter. Last November he arranged for Bishop Hugh Gilbert to go on board the ship and spend time with the crew, share a meal with them and bless the seafarers and the vessel. In September this year, AoS Scotland Bishop Promoter Stephen Robson visited the men on board and spent time speaking with them. They later joined in AoS’ Stella Maris Mass in St Mary’s Cathedral, Aberdeen.
One crew member says, “We are extremely pleased to know that Doug has been announced the winner of the award. In him receiving it, we feel like we have been awarded the honours.”