Limerick competition launched

One of the UK’s oldest seafaring charities is launching a national limerick competition designed to celebrate life at sea to mark World Poetry Day on 21st March.

The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, which provides financial support and assistance to retired and incapacitated seafarers in need, is encouraging adults and school pupils to enter its Seafaring Limerick Competition by writing poems about peril on the sea.

BBC Radio 4 comic poet Matt Harvey will be judging the entries which should be a five line poem about the ocean and the men and women who dedicate their lives to working at sea, and all the challenges entailed. Throughout the duration of the campaign the charity will be tweeting their ‘Limerick of the day’ from the showcase entries.

Britain’s reliance on the sea is often overlooked, but 95 percent of total UK trade is transported by ship, with the £26.5 billion UK maritime sector directly or indirectly employing over 531,000 people.

In 2011/2012 the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society made regular and one-off grants in over 2,500 cases of need to retired and working age mariners and their families amounting to over £1.47 million.

Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society Chief Executive, Malcolm Williams, said: ” With the exception of mine, the standard of entries we received last year was outstanding and we are hoping for a repeat performance this year. The competition is a fun way to celebrate life at sea and those who work day in day out with the ocean, whether, fishing its depths, protecting our shores or transporting the products we take for granted in our daily lives.

Having someone with the talent and reputation of Matt Harvey to judge our winner is a great honour for the Society. Every year we see many cases of people who having dedicated so much of their lives to the sea now find themselves in difficult financial circumstances and with the support of a generous public we are able to help them.. The sailor’s life should provide inspiration to budding poets and help to get the creative juices flowing.”

Matt has penned a limerick of his own to inspire budding poets to enter the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society’s competition:

A short-sighted sailor called Shearer
Was sure Scotland’s shoreline grew nearer
He was no navigator
For one hour later
He ran aground off South Utsire

World Poetry Day was established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in 1999 to promote the reading, writing, publishing and teaching of poetry throughout the world.

To enter the competition and for more information visit or the Society’s Facebook page at