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Last week I was once again very pleased and proud to be invited as a VIP guest to South Shields Marine School’s Graduants Awards Day.  I am invited because I am a Fellow of the Marine School, that was founded 158 years ago and which had been newly re-named South Shields Marine and Technical College when I first attended in 1959.  South Shields Marine and Technical College was later renamed South Tyneside College and in 2012, the marine department of the college was re-branded back to its original name of South Shields Marine School and it is now part of Tyne Coast College.  In my opinion this was a masterstroke by Lindsey Whiterod, the current ceo of the college and her team.  Throughout its first 90 years, South Shields Marine School was world renown and a very successful brand in its own right but because the school came under local authority control in 1951 and brand new purpose built premises were constructed to allow for its expansion, the name was changed. The college continued to be successful in spite of its various name changes, which says a lot for the people who have managed it and taught there.  Personally I think South Shields Marine School would have performed equally as well with its old name retained throughout its history but we will never know.  It’s just a personal observation.

The School and its historical successes on a worldwide platform is just one of South Shield’s claims to fame and marine students attend from all over the UK and all parts of the world.  Over 100 marine graduants, male and female, walked across the stage, were presented with certificates by Andrew Watts, chairman of the college board of governors, and exited as fully qualified graduates after a great deal of hard work and application, I’m sure.  Naturally they were happy and smiling with lots of applause, especially from family and friends, many of whom had travelled thousands of miles to celebrate the occasion that will set most of the graduates on a life-changing career in the marine industry.  We congratulate all of them and wish them the very best of luck in the future.

South Shields Marine School is the world’s oldest marine training centre and has always been ‘world famous’, almost since it was established in 1861 and continues to be so, having seen a £4.5m upgrade and the development of its globally-renowned brand into new markets in countries such as China, India and Bangladesh.

The marine courses cover all aspects of the 4 departments that usually exist in one form or another on ships at sea and marine establishments ashore. Deck and Navigation; Engineering; Electro-technology; Catering.  South Shields Marine School is a centre of expertise for trainee mariners from the UK and overseas, which is why the school recently won the prestigious Educating The North Award.  Judges were impressed at how it transfers its long-nurtured skills and expertise to support other nations to train their own Merchant Navy mariners.  The award was presented to a very proud John Roach, Principal of South Shields Marine School, who can be seen in the photo.

Facilities include a multi-million pound computerised Marine Simulation Centre, state-of-the-art Marine Engine Room and Electrical Plant and a dedicated Marine and Offshore Safety Training Centre in Wapping Street on the side of the River Tyne in South Shields, one of the UK’s major offshore training facilities.

JHL MBE SSL Co. Chairman