About Us

The Society was established in 1920 after Havelock Wilson, the founder and president of the National Union of Seamen (NUS) recognised that there was a need to provide help for merchant seafarers. He campaigned and highlighted awareness throughout the country, successfully raising funds, gaining the support of one main benefactor, Mr Henry Radcliffe, who was a shipping company owner. The first building they acquired that was suitable as a convalescent home was Limpsfield, Surrey.

In 1920 the Henry Radcliffe Convalescent Home was opened by the Duke of York and so the society was born. The Merchant Seamen's War Memorial Society was effectively the fund raising arm of the charity and they worked tirelessly to secure funds to run the home. Following World War II the people of South Africa collected a large sum of money and gave it to the NUS with the instructions to build a living memorial to those seamen who gave so much to keep the shipping lanes open during the conflict.

Sachel Court in Alfold, Surrey had been leased during the war by the NUS and it decided that the building and the surrounding area was an ideal place to set up memorial. In 1947 Sachel Court became the new home of the Society, now named Springbok.

As well as a convalescent home the Society also embarked on a training scheme for seafarers in both horticulture and agriculture. This ran successfully until 1993 and thousands of seafarers were retrained into another industry. Today the Society now known as 'Care Ashore' continues to offer support to seafarers and provides both sheltered housing with support, plus holidays. Anyone who has served in either the Merchant and Royal Navies, plus the fishing fleets may apply for accommodation or a holiday.