PONLHeritage was launched exactly 10 years ago, on 8 February 2006. Some of the senior PONL management had recognised that the takeover would result in not only the loss of a company with a significant history but also the end of the contact that we had with colleagues around the world. PONLHeritage was set up to preserve and communicate our shared history and to give people a way of keeping in touch. Some funding was organised to get this website off the ground and to cover the first few years of operation (that funding including a generous donation from the Beagle House Sports & Social Club). As well as the website, the LinkedIn PONLHeritage group was created with invites to join the network being sent out worldwide.
Another initiative that started around the same time was the formation of SCARA, the association for former employees and contractors of OCL, P&O Containers, P&O Nedlloyd and associated companies. From day one, SCARA and PONLHeritage have worked closely together to achieve the common aims.
So where are we after ten years? This website is still very much up and running with just over 3,000 visitors and 18,000 page views in 2015. We also get 2-3 email enquiries per month. Some of those messages are rather speculative (sadly we can't offer people jobs on ships!) but we've been able to provide assistance to people trying to trace their pension by pointing them in the right direction and have also helped a few times with research for a book or magazine. The PONLHeritage LinkedIn group has 750+ members but with the growth of that social media site over the years it's fair to say that the number of people now connected is far greater than that.
SCARA has also grown from strength to strength since its first reunion lunch in 2006. Sadly many of the communications we post on this website on SCARA's behalf relate to funerals but with the new faces that appear at its events every year the membership is clearly growing.
While the above story is about objectives successfully met, what no one could have envisaged was how informal networks would spring up to also help keeping us together. The PONL Facebook group with its 2,000+ members and regular posts about reunions aropund the world is perhaps the most obvious and it is great to be able to read about the events being held in Hing Kong, Japan, Milan, New York, Rotterdam, Singapore, Sydney to name just a few of the venues. It was that Facebook group that was used to bring over a hundred people together a couple of weeks ago for a gathering linked to the imminent demolition of our old London HQ, Beagle House (now Maersk House).
The PONL Facebook group is just one of several which are being used to keep people in touch around the world. There are groups related to locations and roles (the Bay Boats Facebook group has nearly 550 ex-seastaff members). There was a time when we tried to keep a track of them all but that's now become an impossible task!
Who could have imagined at the time of the takeover that in 2016 we would have such a thriving community around the world, staying in touch and sharing news? The bond that exists between former colleagues is surely a reflection of how special that company that we all worked for was.
PONL Heritage - celebrating the past, staying in touch in the future...