London has long since envied Athens and Oslo which, every two years, attract shipping people in their thousands to Posidonia and Nor-Shipping. No Maritime Cyprus, no CMA and no HMM for the Brits, whose claim to being a major maritime hub seemed inversely proportional to their ability to put on a shipping party.
So, when two unlikely heroes called Sean and Llewellyn announced their plans to put London firmly on the event scene in 2013 with the first London International Shipping Week, they were met with the enthusiasm of a balloon slowly losing air.
Not to be deterred, our heroes battled on and put on a show that surprised everyone. A week of cocktail parties, seminars, an official conference, a massive Gala Dinner and an audience for shipping at the heart of government, cemented LISW as a brand with a regular spot in the shipping calendar.
Two years on, the dynamic duo did it again, only this time bigger and better. The balloon stayed fully inflated as the British Prime Minister, Transport and Shipping Ministers got on board from the off and an even more illustrious roll call of shipping glitterati descended on London for some quite outstanding events
The Gala dinner attracted over 800 people and there was something like 120 parties, seminars and the like throughout the week. The dragon boat races on the Friday raised £140,000 for research into children's cancer and immune diseases (see more on this in a separate blog).
And so now shipping folk from the UK can meet each other …in the UK, instead of at Posidonia. And overseas visitors can see the scale of the UK shipping sector.
LISW 2015 was huge and made a lot of people proud. We need to feel good about ourselves. It's what makes getting up in the morning a little easier. We have a tendency to feel a little sorry for ourselves and to complain about lack of support. Far better that we take responsibility for showcasing to government and promoting to the rest if the world that London and the UK are thriving and open for business.
Hats off to Llewellyn and Sean, out unlikely super-heroes, but as the line from The Incredibles goes "No capes!".