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Charity’s new trustees bring experience of seafaring hardship


4/10/2024 10:15:55 AM

Charity & Fundraising

4 mins read

Cathy Kioko-Gilligan (left) and Rhiannon Beeson, the new trustees at the Sailors’ Children’s Society.

A charity which has been helping the families of seafarers for more than 200 years has boosted its ranks of trustees with two people who have experience of the demand for its services.


The Sailors’ Children’s Society has welcomed barrister Cathy Kioko-Gilligan and Rhiannon Beeson, who runs her own full service marketing agency The Be Brand.


Natasha Barley, CEO of the Society, said: “The Sailors’ Children’s Society is going from strength to strength but like all charities we need to keep moving forward with new people and new ideas.
“We work nationally to support disadvantaged children from the merchant navy, Royal Navy, the offshore wind industry, fishing fleets and inland waterways but Hull is our historic home and I am delighted that we have been able to recruit two people from the local community who know what the city and its people are about.”


The Society is a lifeline for the children of families in crisis experiencing bereavement, family breakdown or diagnosis of a life limiting or terminal illness and all the families it works with are experiencing financial hardship.


Cathy, who is a Deputy Lieutenant of the East Riding, was a beneficiary of the Society’s services when her father, a merchant seaman, passed away when she was just three.


She said: “I had a little sister and times were hard, especially as we reached school age and mum couldn’t afford uniforms. She was a nurse in training and went to social services for help but they said she earned slightly too much so we couldn’t have any money. Mum was heartbroken and didn’t know what to do but her matron at work suggested she talk to the Society.
“My dad’s death wasn’t maritime related but they still helped us with the uniform, including for my sister when she reached school age, and we were also invited to go on their annual days out. We have some wonderful memories from those and from the annual fete in their grounds on Cottingham Road.
“We knew as children growing up that we were in a lucky position because we were being assisted by the charity because we received the grant for many years. In reality the charity enabled us to fit in because we had school uniforms. My mum didn’t cry as much. The Society took a massive weight off mum’s mind.
“As I grew up I lost my awareness of them and didn’t hear about them. The fete stopped and I assumed it no longer existed. It’s been really good rediscovering the charity and I feel as though I’ve never been away. I am passionate about helping the charity raise money to help people in the same way that they helped me and my family.”


Rhiannon worked for KCOM and Giacom but it was her spell in between with APD Communications – a specialist software supplier to the emergency services – which equipped her with insight into risks at sea.


She said: “Working in critical comms gave me my first insight into HM Coastguard, the Royal Navy and other emergency services on the coast.”


She was aware of Natasha from previous charity work and rekindled the relationship when she was setting up The Be Brand and they met on a women’s accelerator course at the University of Hull.


Rhiannon said: “I really liked what Natasha was doing with the charity. She’s an incredible CEO and someone I look up to and she’s transformed the charity.
“I also attended the charity’s annual Sportsman’s Lunch where Natasha’s speech about the work they do and helping families in their hour of need really resonated with me from my experience with APD Communications. The Be Brand recently adopted the Society as our charity of the year, raising funds and donating time and the trusteeship is building on that.”

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