• Murray Campell
Location:
Fraserburgh
Date:
Friday 1st May 2009
Reference:
SWI2009/001

Simon:

One of the things that’s quite interesting about the fishing up here in the North East is that over the generations there’s always been a kind of migrant workforce coming and going for fishing. A few generations back it was like people from the Western Isles. Now more recently within the fishing plants it’s mostly Eastern European and on the boats it’s the Filipino people.

     

Murray:

That is just in the last few years here with the foreign, would you say migrant? I suppose if you go back in years and look at the history of the fishing industry, with the herring for example, women used to travel the length and breadth of the land to gut the herring. So you’re getting migrant workers here to Lerwick or from here to Yarmouth or wherever and so it’s nothing new. What is new is they’re coming in from the various EEC (European Economic Community) countries and beyond, i.e. the Philippines and so on.

Simon:

And within your role within the Fisherman’s Mission, do you see the kind of changes that are happening with, say, migrant workers through the mission?

     

Murray:

My role here is, in the Fisherman’s Mission, my role is to … I’m the top missioner here, i.e. the pastor for the industry. Whether it’s land or sea, this is my parish. And there’s always somebody with problems, there’s always somebody looking for advice, counselling or ... anything a minister does or a clergy does, that’s who we are and what we do. And we’re here primarily for the fishing industry. That’s the fisherman, their family, the industry ... Because it’s a huge industry. For every fisherman, they say there’s six or seven people as a support in fish factories and so on in the service. So we’re here for the fishermen, the family and the industry. Also the community that we live in because when something happens here, such as happened this week, we lost a very experienced skipper. I’ve been working and dealing with that this week. We are a port again in mourning and really try to just, when we didn’t ... we weren’t able to bring Kevin home to his family so we’re arranging a memorial service these last two days and we hope and we pray that we will be able to take Kevin home to lay to rest because if we can lay him to rest then the family will be at peace and they’ll get rest. So that’s what we’re about, we’re here for ... This is my parish and my parish extends from Fraserburgh to Dornoch. And that’s right along the Moray Firth and up to Dornoch so that’s a good lot that is my parish, so often I’m not here. But I like to start a day in the fish market where you can breathe the industry and get the craic, get the whatever’s happening in the world, what else is in newspapers, whatever fish has landed, all the news from each port, etc., etc. You glean down there. And then come up here and start your day’s work and of course it’s not nine-to-five, it’s whenever to whenever. And we have foreign fishermen in most nights. Whenever the boats are in, our place is open. In here they can come. This is a home from home and they can come here for recreation and uplift, just playing pool or playing chess ... Just passing the time must be good. We’ve a great invention here in the evenings now. We have a Magic Sing. A Magic Sing to you and I is what? It’s karaoke. But it’s a fantastic machine. The singing is absolutely out of this world. I’m first on it every night. But there’s a thousand songs in the book. The bulk of it is all English with a Filipino background. Absolutely marvellous. All the ... our fishermen know every word, they seem to know every word. They’re well versed in their singing. Of course during the Christmas period and the good times, along with the not so good times, I am speaking at church somewhere. They like to come along with me and hear the choir and what have you, and they bring some ‘oomf’ and some life into their singing. They don’t sing like you or I, they’re up and out there. If they’re singing, they’re happy.

Simon:

I was going to ask you about that because people have told me about it. Did that just come about from the fishermen themselves?

     

Murray:

It came about because last August we lost four fishermen, three Filipinos and a Latvian. And we had a memorial service on the 13th of September and we had a ... we landed a choir. We had a choir of ... normally about forty or fifty on a Saturday night then and we let them choose what they’re going to sing and they chose this piece called God Will Show The Way. And it was absolutely apt, it just fitted nicely. So when the day of the service came, we had 170 and it was absolutely marvellous. There’s a few that stood in the choir that didn’t sing, couldn’t sing, because of the emotion of it all. There was some in the choir who couldn’t sing because they can’t sing! Know what I mean? But they wanted to be there and what they produced was nice. And from that we’ve done concerts at Christmas time and so on.

Simon:

Do things like that help build bridges between people? You have people from very disparate places ... (inaudible) ... as a home from home ... Does that help?

     

Murray:

Yes, yes. Because our lads are away from home for long period of time, you get to know them. You get to know them very, very well. And they are very appreciative of what we’re doing and what the community’s doing. It’s not just a one man band here. I’m helped by an army of volunteers from various churches and it’s excellent. On a Saturday night, there’s one member of the voluntary team. He and his wife prepare sandwiches and cakes and juice and what have you. And there’s other people who provide ... other volunteer workers who I’ve known for many years in the industry, they come and supply the juice. The mission? It pays for absolutely nothing. Anything as ... We do clothes, we do a supply of clothes because our friends from the Philippines come over scantily dressed and what have you into this winter type harsh environment. They go out into a harsher environment so we give them warm clothes, jackets and ... every Filipino got a fleece from the church, the Emmanuel Church. They supplied every Filipino in this catchment area with a fleece. That was one present Santa was able to bring to them. And many other gifts as well, that was just one church doing their thing. Chocolates and fleeces to every Filipino in the area.

Simon:

Does that mean also that the boats who employ them help to support them?

     

Murray:

Very much. The boats support them. They support me to support them because this is their home when they come in. When they come in after being nine, ten days out at sea and this is where they can relax. They can shower, we’ve got TVs ... It’s all here. We’re very quiet through the day as you can see but at nights it’s bouncing. But absolutely marvellous.

Simon:

This is one of the few places where people talk about the Filipino crews a lot to me and they mention it, it’s not actually ... (inaudible) ... It’s the first time I’ve seen crews ashore.

     

Murray:

A lot of them live on the boats, that’s what they want. Because these boats ... (inaudible) ... they’re better living quarters than a lot of people have on shore. Certainly a hundred times better than what they live in, in the Philippines. And they get their food, they get their shelter, they get incidentals. They are cared for.

Simon:

And what’s the kind of experience of ... What’s the common first reaction when people come?

     

Murray:

When the Filipinos come? Many of them are now in the farm and fort in here. We see new faces every week and they go home for vacation. They don’t have holiday, they have vacation. And they go for maybe a month, maybe two months, and then they get back. And they work Fraserburgh because the fishermen here are good to them, they have their mission here and they know they will be looked after here. That’s about it. They just know that Fraserburgh is good for them. And they’re good for Fraserburgh, they’re very good for Fraserburgh because without them a lot of our boats would not be able to go to sea. That’s why we have to look after them. That’s why we have to help as much as we can. By helping them, they help us.

Simon:

Would it be possible to film at one of the weekends at some point? Maybe not at this weekend but sometime in the future?

     

Murray:

A Saturday night is fantastic. We have karaoke every night but we have ... Because the boats are all at sea just now. I keep a register you see. I think sixteen, eighteen boys we had in last night. But there’s enough noise for a hundred. On a Saturday we had sixty, seventy. Depending on the weather, depending on what’s happening.

Simon:

So I could come along? Do you think they’d be OK with me filming?

     

Murray:

If you give me warning? Yes. I try and shelter them a lot because ... And they look to us for advice: “Is this OK? Is this safe?” Because most of the guys that we deal with like television people are really, really good and would not trap them in any way. But one was trapped at the time of the accidents. One trapped him into saying something and it wasn’t very nice. Wasn’t very nice. And the lad was beating himself up over it so after that we just banned everybody from speaking to the press. They speak through me because it’s safer. The three lads were perished by fire and they were hurting, this boat was hurting. Some wee journalist come along and said ... didnae say they were a journalist but ... whatever.