Sea Sunday Service in Surfleet

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For the past 30 years or so the villagers of Surfleet have upheld a tradition called Sea Sunday.

It’s a national day when churches all over the world come together to remember seafarers and pray for them, their families and those who support them.

Locally, the Sea Sunday Service is to be held on Sunday, July 20 (2pm) at Surfleet Reservoir – though the national event is a week earlier.

Churchwarden at St Laurence Church Surfleet Douglas Drakard remembers the service was introduced in the 1980s by the vicar at the time.

Douglas said: “It was a long while ago, but it was the mid-1980s and I can’t remember which vicar introduced it.

“I was churchwarden at the time and I’m still churchwarden.”

In fact, Douglas became a churchwarden 40 years ago and has served in that role since, with a two-year break when he needed surgery for a heart condition.

It is appropriate to recognise Sea Sunday in Surfleet where many villagers own pleasure craft – and where the tides also bring in bigger boats.

Douglas says the timing of the service is planned to coincide with high tide so that boats on the “salt” side can come up to the sluice – close to where the service is held. Little boats from the “fresh water” side also join in proceedings, conducted this year by the Rev David Sweeting.

Douglas says the service has evolved over the years and is now an ecumenical one, with Baptists and Methodists joining members of the congregation from St Laurence Church.

For some years, retired Spalding Methodist church minister Maurice Perry was involved in the service, arriving on his own boat.

There is usually a speaker from the Mission to Seafarers and there is a collection for seafarers.

Douglas said: “We have had 40, 50 or 60 people, it all depends on the day.

“The tide makes a difference and 2pm is a good high water mark. We usually have a few boats pull up.

“The boats come up to the sluice and the priest stands on the footbridge and the congregation are on the main bridge.

“It’s become a tradition in Surfleet going back about 30 years I would guess. It’s a wonderful tradition.”