Seychelles Nation article, by Laura Pillay:
Employees, former employees and partners of Mahé Shipping Company Limited joined together to celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary and its achievements in the shipping industry, in a brief ceremony at Harbour Café, Espace Building, on Friday evening.
The ceremony commenced with a brief look into the company’s history and the transitions over the years before Director and Editorial Director Adrian Skerrett unveiled the newly launched book Seychelles, Ships and the Sea, a major historical work sponsored by Mahé Shipping Company in commemoration of the milestone anniversary.
The hardback historical work, on sale for R400, is a unique collaborative effort between some of the leading experts on the history of Seychelles and maritime affairs in the region and is lavishly illustrated with photographs and maps.
Mr Skerrett himself has contributed twelve chapters and his wife Judith Skerrett, the Assistant Editor, contributed a further four chapters to the book. There is a chapter each contributed by William McAteer (whaling ships), Julien Durup (schooners), Tony Mathiot (lighthouses), Malinda Skerrett (pirates) and Gerry Adam (the modern port and the future). There are also personal stories from Lorna Drake and Gitanne Gendron, two Seychelloise whose lives have been hugely influenced by the shipping links of Seychelles.
The book is Mr Skerrett’s twenty-first book about Seychelles, 11 of which have been published by Camerapix International, based in Nairobi.
Mr Skerrett thanked all who contributed towards the book, emphasising the importance of the sea for Seychelles, the smallest of the 54 African countries.
“Seychelles is a small country in terms of land mass but Seychelles has always punched above its weight for one reason, and that is the sea. Seychelles has an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 1.4 million square metres. It has the second largest EEZ of 54 African countries,” Mr Skerrett noted, highlighting the benefits that the country reaps from economic activities in the EEZ.
Invitees were all given a copy of the book and a small token of appreciation.
Managing Director of Mahe Shipping, Joe Morin, has been with the company for 25 years where he started as a junior staff and gradually worked his way up. He was appointed managing director in September 2017. Outlining his experience working for the company, Mr Morin referred to it as being in a university.
“Shipping is a vast industry and it evolves and changes quite quickly. The job is challenging but also one which is fulfilling and through which one can learn so much,” he said.
Mr Morin further emphasised that the company remains committed towards evolving to meet the needs and demands of the market stating “I see a bright light at the end of the tunnel for Mahé Shipping in the years to come”.
Mahe Shipping joined forces with Corvina Investment Company and H Savy Insurance to sponsor the Annual Club Championship for the Seychelles Golf Club during the first weekend of November.
“The SGC members are extremely grateful to the amazing sponsors, Corvina Investments, H Savy Insurance and Mahe Shipping, who have once again, come through with great support for the competition,” said SGC captain Michael Lavigne.
Seychelles Nation reported "a great turnout of participants, in all the respective categories of handicap, Gold, Silver, Bronze, and also sectors such as for Ladies, Juniors and Pros, but all eyes were set on the main challenge, that of the overall club champion".
Prozes were presented by Captain Guy Adam (Corvina and retired Chairman of Mahe Shipping), Mrs Hoareau (H Savy) and Joe Morin (Mahe Shipping Managing Director) together with our club captain Michael Lavigne.
The full Seychelles Nation review of the tournament can be read here.
A new book, Seychelles, Ships and the Sea, was launched on 14 November 2019 at an event hosted at the British High Commission residence at Bel Air attended by the President of Seychelles, Minister Didier Dogley, MNAs, members of the diplomatic community, members of the business community of Seychelles and visitors from UK, South Africa and Kenya.
The book is a major historical work sponsored by Mahe Shipping Company in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the company. It is a unique collaborative effort between some of the leading experts on the history of Seychelles and maritime affairs in the region, lavishly illustrated with photographs and maps.
Adrian Skerrett, Editorial Director, contributed twelve chapters and Judith Skerrett, Assistant Editor contributed a further four chapters to the book. There is a chapter each contributed by William McAteer (whaling ships), Julien Durup (schooners), Tony Mathiot (lighthouses), Malinda Skerrett (pirates) and Gerry Adam (the modern port and the future). There are also personal stories from Lorna Drake and Gitanne Gendron, two Seychelloise whose lives have been hugely influenced by the shipping links of Seychelles. The book is published by Camerapix International. It is the twenty-first book led by Adrian Skerrett as author or editor and the eleventh of these to be published by Camerapix Publishers, based in Nairobi.
“There is a symbiotic relationship between ships, the islands and the people of Seychelles”, write Adrian and Judith Skerrett in the introduction to the book “Islands are vital to ships as stepping stones across a vast ocean, ships have provided Seychelles with the means for cultural diffusion and for interaction between the people of Europe, Africa and Asia and maintain the supply of goods and provisions on a major highway of maritime trade. The sound and sight of the sea is ever-present to those who live in Seychelles, and the sea is in the blood of Seychellois”.
The book begins with a history of the Indian Ocean in the form of maps, including those of Roman, Greek, Arab, Chinese and European cartographers. It explores the early trade links in the region, the Portuguese Armadas, the English East India Company, the French settlement of Seychelles and conflict in the region including the Napoleonic Wars, World Wars and piracy. There are chapters on each of the major types of vessel that serve Seychelles from tankers and fishing vessels to steamships and cruise ships.
Attendees at the book launch included Nicholas and Deborah Bentley-Buckle, the son and daughter of Tony Bentley-Buckle, founding Chairman of Mahe Shipping. Tony Bentley-Buckle was a British war hero, an Olympic sailing competitor who competed for Kenya at the 1960 Olympics and a pilot, who founded Air Mahe, forerunner of Air Seychelles, and he landed the first private plane to arrive at Mahé in March 1971. During the Second World War, he was recognised for his heroism in rescuing hundreds of British Prisoners of War in Italy during the Allied invasion, before he too was captured and imprisoned.
Tony Bentley-Buckle then plotted with other Prisoners of War to construct a life-size dummy christened Albert, used in one of the most daring escape plans of the war. The prisoners fooled German guards into believing Albert was a real person while a prisoner remained undetected in the showers, to make their escape when the coast was clear. Tony contributed to the cunning scheme by designing the moving eyes to add a life-like realism to the dummy. The story was featured in a full length black and white drama movie, Albert R.N., produced in 1953. After the war, he sailed to East Africa and set up Southern Line, serving the region including Seychelles for many years.
Later, Tony established Mahe Shipping in partnership with a consortium of shipping lines from six European countries, some of which had served the islands going back to the 19th century at a time when commercial steamships provided the only links between Seychelles and the outside world. His life is featured in his autobiography, Through Albert’s Eyes: Volume 2 of The British Navy at War and Peace.
The new book Seychelles, Ships and the Sea is available from Mahe Shipping and from Antigone bookshop and other outlets.