Friday, 22 April 2016 13:38

Helping to keep Mariners safe for 25 years

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Hazel Bennett of Western Maritime Training, Celebrating 25 Years at the helm. Hazel Bennett of Western Maritime Training, Celebrating 25 Years at the helm.

Hazel Bennett is celebrating 25 years with Plymouth-based Western Maritime Training Ltd, running a wide range of licensed courses for the modern maritime industry.

As training manager, Hazel has seen vast changes within the industry and its training provision, from the early days of only using paper charts through to today's high-tech bridge simulators.

Hazel said: "The industry has changed completely since I started. Levels of professionalism and safety on board boats have risen and hopefully my role has contributed to that.

"It is an industry that is a lot more highly regulated nowadays and more professional because of it. Everyone needs to be certificated for tasks on board that they would not have needed to be in previous years."

She added: "The new generation of fishermen have become very safety conscious.

"As well as the regulated mandatory qualifications there are also voluntary training programmes schemes, which a lot of fishermen have taken up. This is great because it has helped raise standards and safety awareness.

"It is not a business you can make a lot of money out of but that's not the point. We are here to help people access safety training and make the whole point of being at sea safer."

Travel the length and breadth of Devon and Cornwall and you'll find several generations of seafarers who Hazel has organised training for including fishermen, workboat crews, ferry crews and merchant navy crew.

She has also been instrumental in managing several large projects over the years.

Since she started she has won £42,000 worth of funding from the Training and Enterprise Council to produce a safety video 'Fighting The Odds'.

The video, which follows a disaster on board a fishing vessel, is still being used today across the world to train in sea safety.

In addition, nearly half a million pounds was awarded to Western Maritime Training Ltd to help Skippers' qualifications for the whole of the South West. After that more funds to train marine engineers in Newlyn were received.

Hazel is also continuously fighting for funding to help support those in the maritime industry get the additional training they need.

With most of those working in the industry being self-employed, giving up time valuable for extra training not only costs money but also results in no wage by not being at sea.

Hazel, one of two directors of Western Maritime Training Ltd, says that looking back over the last 25 years working in what is essentially a male-dominated environment has been plain sailing.

She added: "I've been doing it for so long now I don't really notice, so for me it's been great. The people are easy to work with and it's a very professional environment because at the end of the day, their training could save lives.

"Each year has brought a difference challenge. It is quite dynamic and people orientated and I have followed people right throughout their careers, from their first jobs at sea to becoming officers in merchant navy. And I hope to help many more in the future."

Western Maritime Training Ltd provides an extensive range of courses at all levels across the maritime industry and new courses are planned for later this year.

Training is provided at its base in Crownhill Fort using the company's £600,000, 270 degree bridge simulator.

This enables students to take 'control' of any type of vessel located anywhere in the world in all kinds of weather conditions and under a range of scenarios.


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