mike king iswan

The Loadstar Podcast host Mike King is hoping to raise $15,000 for an international seafarers’ welfare charity by hiking 200 miles ‘Sea-to-Sea’ this month.

The veteran journalist will trek for more than 10 days on behalf of the UK’s the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN).

Mr King said he was motivated by the poor treatment of seafarers during the Covid pandemic.

“I thought the treatment of these crews was abhorrent,” he said. “So many were stuck onboard ships for longer than a year and, really, hardly anybody outside the industry cared. Then they couldn’t get vaccines, so they still couldn’t return home.

“It’s a disgrace, when these are the people who transport all the energy and food on which we all rely – and all the luxuries we don’t really need but ordered anyway during lockdowns.

“And now we’ve got the war in Ukraine, which has trapped hundreds more seafarers in the Black Sea. Again, they are the forgotten victims,” he said.

“I’m hoping some of the shipowners and managers or other people in the logistics world I’ve interviewed over the years might help support this fundraiser.”

The walk will cover Offa’s Dyke, a 200-mile earthwork thought to have been constructed in the 8th century on the orders of King Offa of Mercia to subdue the Welsh. It goes from the Severn Estuary in south Wales to the Irish Sea coast in north Wales.

ISWAN was chosen after Mr King asked some of his most trusted shipping contacts and journalism colleagues for recommendations.

“The message I received back was they are the best out there,” he said. “They provide brilliant helplines for seafarers.

“Some of the funds will go towards ISWAN’s Ukraine Crisis Support Fund, which gives small grants to seafarers and their families of any nationality who have been impacted by the Ukraine crisis and need urgent financial support.”

Simon Grainge, ISWAN’s CEO, said: “We are very grateful to Mike for choosing to support ISWAN as he takes on this challenge. While many seafarers are still enduring the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, the crisis in Ukraine presents a new ordeal for crew members and their families affected by the conflict. Every donation makes a difference, enabling us to give financial help to those in desperate need and to provide a listening ear and support to those who are struggling through our SeafarerHelp helpline.”

Mike recently interviewed a survivor of the February missile attack by Russia on the Namura Queen in the Black Sea for The Loadstar Podcast.

“It really struck me not only how much danger seafarers face, but also how long some of these guys have been at sea. My interviewee had had a close escape. It really sounded terrifying, and my heart goes out to those stuck there still.”

Mike will be joined on the hike by childhood friend Norman Long. They will carry all their kit with them and pay all their own costs.

“Norman is confident in his navigation skills, which is a good thing because I don’t know one end of a compass from the other,” said Mike. “If it’s left to me, we’ll be walking 300 miles.”

You can contribute to the fundraiser here.

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