“I thought I should wear something that made me instantly recognisable around the port,” said Pat Ezra. “While on holiday before I started at AoS I found a pink see-through hard hat. It has provided a great talking point both in the port and on many of the ships I board and provides a great ice-breaker.”
At one time, Pat worked as a project manager in the space industry, making digital cameras for satellites and telescopes. Earlier this year, following the retirement of Sister Marian Davey, she joined AoS.
Sea Sunday occurs on July 9 when the Church asks us to pray for seafarers and support the work of AoS, whose chaplains provide practical and pastoral help in ports around the coast of Britain and on cruise ships.
Pat has always had an interest in the maritime industry. In her teens she attempted to join the merchant navy. When that didn’t work out she decided to follow a career in engineering.
She admitted that when she visited Felixstowe for the first time, she was taken aback.
“Felixstowe was the first port I visited and I had forgotten just how large container ships can be. Everything, particularly the cranes, seemed so big. On the whole, the other ports in East Anglia tend to have smaller ships and don’t strike you as quite as busy as Felixstowe,” she said.
Pat was also unprepared for just how tall some container ships are. Some can have 18,000 metal boxes stacked on them. “My first surprise was just how high up container ships are. I hadn’t really thought about this before I joined AoS, and it has taken me a while to get used to the height of the bigger ships. But I am getting there now.”
Pat’s role as a port chaplain is to make herself available to the seafarers she meets and ask what she can do to help. Many will have been at sea for months and have had no contact with their families. Even though technology has changed the maritime industry, most ships still don’t have internet access on board.
“I was asked if I could visit a crew in Great Yarmouth as they needed internet cards. When I arrived they were delighted to see me and it turned out the weather had been pretty bad so they could not offload their cargo. They seemed to really enjoy just telling me all about this and seeing someone different.”
A keen musician, Pat is married to a gardener and they have a daughter, who is at university. “My husband is an agnostic, but is extremely supportive of all I do with the Church.”
As Pat meets more and more seafarers, her fame as the lady in the pink hard hat might well make her known in ports many thousands of miles away from East Anglia.
Pictured above is new port chaplain Pat Eza, in the pink hard hat, on-board a ship.