PROVOST Jim Todd was joined by several guests to celebrate Merchant Navy Day.

He hoisted the Red Ensign, sometimes known as The Red Duster, to mark the event which raises awareness of the our ongoing dependence on Merchant Navy seafarers.

East Ayrshire Council was supporting a nationwide call from the Seafarers UK charity and the Merchant Navy Association for the Red Duster to be flown on public buildings and landmark flagstaffs.

Council leader Douglas Reid welcomed guests to the flag raising ceremony and local veteran John Bannerman read out a message from the charity’s president, The Earl of Wessex.

As an island, the UK relies on Merchant Navy seafarers for 95 per cent of our imports, but many people, particularly the younger generation, know little about ships and seafarers and fail to appreciate the vital contribution they make.

Mr Reid said: “We were pleased to support Merchant Navy Day which provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the real importance of our merchant shipping industry.

“Being an island, the vast majority of goods arriving or leaving from the UK do so by sea. We have always been a significant and successful maritime nation and it’s important to recognise the work of our merchant fleet both now and in the future.”