TAUNTON & District Merchant Navy Association are currently seeking new members, young or old, male or female.

They are a branch of the national MNA who are a registered charity whose aim is to promote the Merchant Navy, past and present.

Captain John de Renzy-Martin said: "The prime object is camaraderie and a venue to meet fellow mariners be they presently serving or long retired.

"The only criteria to become a full member are to have held a British Seaman’s Discharge Book and served in the British Merchant Navy or Fishing Fleets.

"However others with an interest in the Merchant Navy, perhaps through a family member having served, can apply to become Associate Members and join in all Branch meetings and activities."

The Taunton Branch was formed in 1996 and at that time de Renzy-Martin was the youngest and only currently serving member.

This summer the group are planning a visit to Bideford to see the SS Freshspring which is nearing the final stage of it’s restoration.

Currently annual membership fee is £20, of which £8 goes to the MNA National and the remaining £12 goes to branch funds.

"Our meetings are held monthly, alternating between The Lawns Club in Mary Street, Taunton and The Monkton Inn at West Monkton," added de Renzy-Martin.

Both meetings are held on the second Thursday of each month starting at 12pm.

"Anyone interested in joining should contact either myself on 01984-631495 or mobile 07866-419359, or our Branch Secretary Chris Clark on 01823-444288 or mobile 07498-293470.

"We will be glad to answer any questions you may have and arrange for you to attend our next monthly meeting with no obligation to join."