Blessing of the fishing fleet

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The twelfth blessing of Nelson’s fishing fleet is scheduled for Saturday July 21, paying its annual tribute to those who have lost their lives at sea, along with the blessing of boats prior to the hoki season.

There will be the usual fireworks on Friday night, July 20, with viewing from the waterfront and the port hills. Flares and fireworks will be set off from 7pm, with the firework display boosted by support from Port Nelson Ltd.

On Saturday at 1pm Bishop Richard Ellena, Reverend Jeff Cotton, Father David Gruscol and Archdeacon Andy Joseph will take the blessing service, with fishing boats lined up in front of the Seafarers’ Memorial on Wakefield Quay.

Music will be provided by the Nelson Male Voice Choir, Nelson Christian Academy Choir, lone piper Perry Smith and the Nelson City Brass Band. Pigeons will be released at the end of the service.

Seafarers Memorial Trust spokesman Mike Smith says the Blessing of the Fleet has stood the test of time and is a very special commemoration by the Seafarers Memorial Trust.

“The sea and fishing are such an integral part of our community, with 26 per cent of the workforce involved in one way or another with this industry,” Mike says. “The blessing is a unique occasion to appreciate the true cost of fish. Fishermen are lost at sea, often without being found, and this event is an occasion where next of kin and the wider community can remember them.”

With the help of the Rotary Club of Nelson, the trust will be offering scallop and fish picnic lunches and there will be an auction of the Catch of the Day.

The Blessing of the Fleet is a free community event, however the public will be asked to make a donation to the Seafarers’ Memorial Trust to be used in community projects.

If Saturday is wet the Blessing of the Fleet will be held on Sunday 22 July.  Postponement will be broadcast on Radio Nelson stations (Newstalk, Classic Hits etc.)