Guild of Benevolence

Our Guild of Benevolence supports those in need within the marine community and their dependents.

What is the Guild of Benevolence? 

The Guild of Benevolence is a charity supporting those in need within the marine community and their dependents worldwide. We provide assistance that is uniquely tailored to each hardship case that is brought in front of our committee, including: 

  • Making regular grants to supplement a very low income

  • Helping with shortfalls in reasonable nursing home fees 

  • Making single lump sum grants to assist in the purchase of costly items that are essential for the recipient’s wellbeing 

  • Assisting with the cost of essential home repairs, costs of respite care and debt relief

  • Assisting with essential and reasonable funeral expenses in excess of any state contribution 

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Make a donation

The Guild of Benevolence relies on the kindness of people like you.

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RMS Titanic and the creation of the Guild

The Guild originated from the Titanic Engineering Staff Memorial Benevolent Fund set up in 1912 by the Institute together with the Daily Chronicle newspaper to help the bereaved families of the engineers of the RMS Titanic, which sank on 15 April 1912. 

Tragically, all 35 engineers on board lost their lives - from the Chief Engineer to the Engineer’s Clerk, as well as the ship’s designer and two engineers from Harland & Wolff. These heroic crewmembers stayed at their posts until the end, maintaining electrical power which kept lights on throughout the ship and provided power to the radio office, enabling them to transmit distress signals until the ship sank beneath the waves.

In 1934, the Fund was expanded in response to World War I and became The Institute of Marine Engineers Guild of Benevolence. Since then, the role of the Guild has further developed to assist more generally in the relief of hardship for marine engineers, scientists and technologists and their dependants.


How is the Guild funded?

Individuals can become members of the Guild and pay a monthly or annual donation. Donations are also received from IMarEST members and branches throughout the world and from companies associated with the marine industry.

The Guild also sustains a regular income through a diversified investment portfolio and is occasionally the beneficiary of a legacy in remembrance of a loved one.

Guild Membership

Membership of the Guild commits you to an ongoing donation in the form of an annual subscription or a lifetime membership.

Annual – £25
Lifetime – £300

Giving by legacy


This is a simple form of legacy giving a specified amount of money to a named individual or organisation and is easy to administer. However, it does have the drawback in that inflation will reduce the monetary value of such a legacy.


This involves leaving all or part of the net residue of an estate after all pecuniary legacy, debts, fees and other charges have been met. Therefore, there is no requirement to quantify the amount to be left or to take into account the effect of inflation.


This is suitable for those who would not otherwise wish to bequeath any of their estate to the Guild. It provides an alternative to an estate going to the Crown in the event that none of the named dependents or other beneficiaries survives the deceased. In this event the entire estate would be given over to the Guild as the ultimate beneficiary.


If a person is a beneficiary under a Will, all or part of the inheritance may be transferred to the Guild by means of a ‘Deed of Variation’.

Amounts transferred in this manner are free from inheritance tax, thus giving the Guild the opportunity of benefitting during that persons lifetime.

Applying for help

How do I apply for support?

We want to reach those who need our help as quickly as possible, while making it as straightforward as possible.

1. Complete a financial assistance form

This is to confirm either your details of sea service as a marine engineer or the person on whom eligibility will be based, or Membership of the IMarEST. Providing supporting evidence of sea service such as a Discharge Book, Certificate of Competency or Service will help speed up the consideration process, as less time will be spent verifying history.

2. Provide details of your financial situation

Income and expenditure, savings and any other information that can help the Guild Trustees to make a decision on your circumstances will be appreciated.

3. Expect to receive a home visit

This will be either from a Guild Trustee or a representative from SSAFA – the Armed Forces charity, who will help you in completing the application form.

If we are unable to help, you will be informed quickly and, if possible, will be advised of other organisations that might be able to assist you.

All information provided is treated in the strictest confidence in accordance with GDPR, and will not be passed on to any other beneficiary organisations without your express permission.

Who qualifies for help?

  • Marine and electrical engineers, mercantile or naval, who possess or have possessed Certificates of Competency or Service issued by the relevant governmental administrations, or equivalent qualifications

  • Past and present members or employees of the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST) or of The Guild of Benevolence

  • Wives, husbands, partners, widows, widowers, dependent children or other dependent relatives of any person qualifying under any of the above categories

The Committee has sole discretion to decide who is eligible for relief and whether or not they are covered by the above descriptions.


Donations make a huge difference to the lives of those in need within the marine community and their families.

An independent 82 year-old widower who served at sea as a Fourth Engineer, living on his own, had an accident while carrying out maintenance on his home. 

He was hospitalised for a short while where tests showed he was suffering memory loss, possibly dementia, with glaucoma also being diagnosed. Shortly after returning home his boiler broke down. Having a very low income, with no savings or debts and the immediate family being unable to assist, he could not afford a replacement.

The Guild Trustees agreed to cover the cost of the new boiler and it's installation. In addition, the Guild made enquiries with other charities and received a contribution from the Shipwrecked Mariners Society towards the cost.

I am absolutely indebted to the Guild for all their financial assistance provided over the past few years. Without it my life would have been unimaginable; receiving that extra grant every quarter took the pressure off paying the gas, electricity and water bills and without which I really cannot imagine how I would have managed. Huge thanks to yourselves, the Chairman and everyone who donates to make these grants possible!


An ex-seafarer and IMarEST member who served at sea for a number of years became unemployed.

Being concerned that funds to cover his mortgage, bills and food would soon run out, he approached the Guild for assistance.

The Trustees assisted with a payment of £1,000 as well as covering the cost of a seafarer’s medical certificate. The Guild also offered their advice with respect to other organisations that could be contacted for help including the Seafarers Advice and Information Line, SAIL.

Donations like yours make stories like these possible.

Please consider donating to the Guild so we can continue to support at-risk seafarers and other members of the marine community.

Donate now