Starting a new job as the world is turned upside down is tough for anyone. Jackie Dodds, Fishermen’s Mission Port Officer in Caithness, tells us how she dealt with an emergency and built relationships despite Covid–19.
“Welcome to the rugged beauty of Caithness! My office sits just a few miles from John
O’ Groats on the north coast of Scotland. Here, fishermen share the sea with puffins, seals, and the occasional orca pod.
“My Fishermen’s Mission life in Caithness began just as Covid-19 struck. Very quickly any means of
earning a living for local fishermen disappeared. Without any stable income, many fishermen worried they might not be able to put food on the table. Thankfully I hit the ground running, offering practical help and a listening ear.
“As the lockdown began, a local fishing agent alerted me that Jo, a Filipino fisherman, was unwell. On visiting the boat, I saw that Jo was seriously ill. I called for an ambulance and coastguard to attend. Together we carefully took our sick fisherman off the boat to the hospital. Over the following days, I ensured Jo had all he needed in the hospital before he was transferred to Aberdeen where my colleague Kenny Brandie provided essential personal items including a phone so Jo could call his worried family – thousands of miles away. Liaising with his doctors, family and translators ensured Jo’s symptoms were understood and a correct diagnosis was given.
“Undoubtedly the agent’s phone call and our response saved this fisherman’s life. I stayed in touch with Jo until he recovered and returned home to his family.
“Connecting with the fishing community during the pandemic has been tough, but gradually the fishermen got to know me. One magical day at the harbour I approached a local skipper ready to introduce myself, when he said, “I ken weel fine who ye are, you’re the new Mission Lady!” in a melodious Aberdeen accent. I resisted the urge to punch the air! It was a small moment in the scale of things but a big one for me!”