God's ship builder - floating medical centre nears Peru

A medical ship run by a charity established by a former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland is in the final stages of its epic transatlantic voyage to Peru.

The MV Forth Hope, operated by the Vine Trust set up by Very Rev Albert Bogle, is currently sailing up the Amazon River and around 900 miles away from the remote city of Iquitos, its final destination.

Once the 114ft medical ship, which has Kirk minister, Rev Willie McPherson, on-board, has docked, volunteers will provide life-changing primary healthcare services to isolated and vulnerable communities.

Forth Hope
MV Forth Hope. Vine Trust.

Equipped with a dental surgery, operating theatre, consultation rooms and a pharmacy, MV Forth Hope, which was named by Princess Anne, is a floating healthcare centre.

International medical and dental volunteers, alongside a team of local clinicians, will be able to provide about 100,000 consultations each year, treatment and health education free of charge.

With a crew of volunteers, MV Forth Hope embarked on a six-week voyage at the end of July from Rosyth in Fife to Las Palmas, Gran Canaria before crossing the Atlantic Ocean to Macapa, Brazil and entering the Amazon River.

Lifesaving

Mr McPherson, chief executive of Vine Trust, said the impact of MV Forth Hope, which was originally destined to become a shuttle ferry, “cannot be underestimated”.

“Vine Trust has always sought to make a significant and lasting impact on the people we support, offering effective help to vulnerable and isolated communities living in poverty,” he added.

“The delivery of MV Forth Hope to the Amazon will double the current capacity of our Peru Medical Programme and provide invaluable primary healthcare services to remote riverine villages.”

Willie McPherson
Rev Willie McPherson, a man described as a modern day Noah.

Mr McPherson was brought up in a shipbuilding community in Clydebank and he has been the inspiration and drive to bring about the renovation of the Vine Trust’s three other ships.

Mr Bogle, who established The Vine Trust in 1985 when he was the minister at Bo'ness St Andrew's Church, described him as “God’s Shipbuilder”.

“You could say Willie is like a modern day Noah, said the pioneer minister who runs an online church.

“He's building ships or Arks to save some of the poorest people in the world.

“It’s not a bridge too far for MV Forth Hope to sail from the Forth Bridges to the Amazon in just over 40 days and nights.

“This has been another epic voyage and the church is proud to tell the story of an extraordinary minister of the Gospel.”

Princess Anne
Princess Anne. Vine Trust.

The vessel, outfitted with the support of Babcock and 30 private businesses, is expected to deliver more than 2 million consultations over the next 20 years.

Ian Donnelly, managing director of Babcock Rosyth site, said it was “real honour “for the company to be involved in the project.

“Our team worked really hard to transform MV Forth Hope and everyone involved in the project should be very proud of what they’ve achieved,” he added.

“Our relationship with Vine Trust is further strengthened through our Homebuilding Partnership, which offers our employees a volunteering opportunity to contribute to the charity’s work of providing homebuilding support to communities in severe poverty.”