The Toughest Job On Earth

Posted on Friday 24th January 2020


People just forget just how hard fishermen work. Today I’ve witnessed fisherman Dave Robinson brings his catch ashore at Selsey beach. He boarded his boat single-handedly at three this morning. The rain was lashing down across a freezing cold sea as he headed out from a dark beach. Dave stepped ashore again 10 hours later after battling turbulent waves in atrocious weather. All this to support his family. It is the toughest job on earth.

Once the fish are unloaded there is time for Nick and Dave to chat about many things including the highs and lows of being a UK fisherman today. Nick comments:

We never forget that fishermen are very proud people and don’t easily discuss their problems. They have good days and bad days. Most importantly they know they can rely on us for help.” The Fishermen’s Mission outreach work on the south coast stretches from Swanage in Dorset to Sheerness in Kent, taking in the Isles of Wight and the Channel Islands. Nick makes a concerted effort to become a well- known and trusted friend in the many small harbours and beach fishing fleets along the coastline. In recent years the fishing here has been very tough with poor catches and soaring costs. Struggling fishing families are increasingly calling on the help that the Fishermen’s Mission provides.

Selsey fishermen Chris and Mike Harvey explain the difference the Fishermen’s Mission makes for them:

“Nick often pops down to see us. He is always there when needed and it’s such a reassurance to know we have someone to help us when all looks bleak. There are only now 11 fishing boats working from Selsey beach. The high cost of living in this area means fishermen need help to pay bills when things get hard. People forget we have boat repairs, nets to replace, quotas and inclement weather especially off this part of the coast. If we can’t go to sea we don’t have an income!”

Whilst at Selsey Nick pays a visit to the local Lifeboat station. Nick maintains a close working relationship with the Selsey coxswain and his crew as they are the frontline hen it comes to helping fishermen in distress at sea. An emergency situation can occur at any time as Nick relates:

“Two years ago, the Dover Coastguard called with the news that a Belgian beamer had capsized off the coast of Ramsgate. One fisherman was rescued but two were still missing. I drove Ashford in Kent to visit the surviving fisherman in the hospital. On route, I stopped to buy new clothes, shoes and other personal items for him. Later I worked with police and coastguard to help repatriate him back to Belgium. What is nice is that he is still in touch with me today. The emotional and practical support we gave him meant so much.”

Our fishermen earn a living doing the toughest job earth. They have a reliable friend in Nick O’Neill, who gives us a personal reflection on what working for the Fishermen’s MIssion means to him:

“As I visit ports and harbours my aim is to serve God and the fishing families I meet. When you get a call from someone who needs help, when you actually go to visit them, you know you are making a tangible difference to their lives. It’s really encouraging to then witness their sheer gratitude and relief that someone is alongside them, offering support and comfort. They know they are not forgotten and will not have to face their problems on their own”.

Your vital role in Nick’s work as he brings hope in stormy seas to every fisherman and every fishing family in need that he meets. Please donate to the Fishermen’s Mission today to ensure they never have to face the struggles of a life alone at sea.