Mercy Ships UK celebrates 20th anniversary

Mercy Ships, a globally respected charity which brings medical care to some of the world's poorest countries via its floating hospital, is today celebrating the 20-year anniversary of the launch of its UK division.

Wednesday, 19th October 2016, 12:50 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 7:35 pm
Lea Milligan, Executive Director of Mercy Ships UK, Sir John Major and Don Stephens, Mercy Ships founder at the Mercy Ships Mansion House 2016 fundraising dinner.

Mercy Ships brings free life-saving medical care and humanitarian aid to the poorest countries in the world through its hospital ship, the Africa Mercy.

The charity, founded by Don and Deyon Stephens in 1978, has transformed the lives of more than 2.56 million people across the world.

Mercy Ships has just docked its state-of-the-art floating hospital, the Africa Mercy, in the Republic of Benin for a ten-month field service to provide over 1,700 life-changing surgeries onboard, treat over 8,000 at a land-based dental clinic, and provide holistic healthcare training to Beninese health professionals.

Celebrating the 20th Anniversary at the Mercy Ships Mansion House fundraising dinner, Mercy Ships Patron Sir John Major said: “For the past 20 years, Mercy Ships UK has helped to bring care and comfort to those who are in need of medical treatment. The extraordinary and selfless endeavour – of all those concerned – is a real and tangible example of man’s humanity to man.”

Lea Milligan, Executive Director of Mercy Ships UK, said: “The conversion of the Africa Mercy into a hospital ship took place here in the UK and it was an extremely proud moment for Mercy Ships UK when she set sail in 2007 to start her first service in West Africa.

“Mercy Ships UK’s contribution has been significant with modest beginnings from the headquarters in Stevenage to transforming over the last 20 years into the largest Mercy Ships’ contributor of funds and volunteers, outside the US. Over the next 20 years we envisage that the charity will deliver a further 48,000 volunteers from around the world to serve on board the ship and help continue Mercy Ships life changing work.”

Mercy Ships founder, Don Stephens, commented: “Thanks to the ongoing support of UK staff, volunteers and financial supporters, Mercy Ships is providing surgeries, basic healthcare, education and local partnership to those who most need it. This is leaving a sustainable legacy of hope and healing in every country we visit. The radical compassion upon which the charity was founded in 1978, and 20 years ago when we extended our efforts into the UK, is still the driving force of Mercy Ships today.”