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Facing my fear - port chaplain's abseil off iconic sculpture

Sailors’ Society port chaplain Phil Denyer talks about his work and his terrifying sponsored abseil from the uk’s tallest sculpture …

Bridgend-based Reverend Phil Denyer is a port chaplain for maritime charity Sailors’ Society, which works internationally to provide practical, emotional and spiritual welfare support to the world’s 1.6m seafarers, regardless of background or faith.

Phil said, “Sailors’ Society chaplains support seafarers from dozens of countries from the Philippines to Ukraine, who are missing their loved ones; we offer a friendly face in a faraway port.

“On one vessel I met the chief officer, who asked me for a copy of Every Day With Jesus, as he had forgotten to pack his when he joined the ship.

“I was able to provide him with one and he was delighted. What can seem like a small gesture can mean an incredible amount.”

Seafarers can spend months away from home in dangerous conditions.

“When I was on a ship visit in Port Talbot, one crew member told me about the concerns he had when they were sailing in rough seas – he told me how they experienced waves of around 80 metres high,” Phil said.

“It’s a stark reminder of just how dangerous seafaring is.”

Phil’s dedication to supporting seafarers saw him recently face his own greatest fear and abseil from the UK’s tallest sculpture in order to raise funds for Sailors’ Society.

After months of training and gym sessions, Phil took on the ArcelorMittal Orbit abseil in Queen Elizabeth Park, London raising more than £1,700 towards Sailors’ Society’s work supporting seafarers in need.

Phil said, “I’ve been terrified of heights all of my life, but was keen to face my fear! People are always very generous because they’re supporting world mission on their doorstep.

“The abseil was one of the most terrifying and exhilarating things I have ever done. Someone told me it’s not the first 261ft you need to worry about – it’s the last foot that kills you!” he joked.

Phil, who supports seafarers visiting the ports of Newport, Cardiff, Port Talbot and Swansea, trained hard for his challenge and has had great support from the local community, including his home church of Gilgal Christian Fellowship. He even lost 12lbs of weight in order to be in prime shape for the abseil.

Phil continued, “I’ve been training hard at the local gym and climbing wall and have had marvellous support from my family and friends and local community groups. My church is in a coastal community, so it’s been brilliant to have this support for seafarers and their families.”

Hundreds of visiting seafarers benefit from Phil’s help each year, ranging from providing wifi and giving them lifts to town when they arrive in port, to offering counselling in times of crisis.

There is still time to make a donation to Phil’s appeal by visiting

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