THE volunteers at the Falmouth branch of the Mission to Seafarers are preparing for what is sure to be their busiest week in years when the port welcomes crews from around the world for the Tall Ships Regatta this summer.

The charity is used to dealing with international visitors, many of whom are in desperate need of its help. The mission has handled many shipping casualties, from receiving the crews of MSC Napoli, MSC Flaminia and mfv Athena to offering assistance to the abandoned crew on Dona Liberta in the River Fal.

Volunteers have also taken food to ships in need and have looked after crew members who have been airlifted to hospital due to injury or illness.

This August, though, they are hoping for no such dilemmas, but will be on hand throughout the regatta to offer crew welfare. Operating out of the Flying Angel Centre inside Falmouth Docks, volunteers will be helping crews contact loved ones through free wi-fi and helping with foreign currency exchange and international phone cards.

Penny Phillips, chairman of the Falmouth branch, said: “We did Tall Ships in 2008 so we know what to expect. We will be getting a large influx of all different nationalities and as always with seafarers, the first thing they will want to do is contact home and we can assist with that and this time we have a lot more space for them to come in and sit down.

“Last time the centre was packed for the whole time, but it was lovely seeing all the different nationalities coming together.”

The crews will find a friendly welcome in the mission’s large, comfortable lounge, and will also be able to visit the mission’s chapel or spend time in the award-winning garden or Flaminia summerhouse. Free warm clothing and books are always available and there is the added attraction of Bagpuss, the famous mission cat, who has appeared on Songs of Praise and on the cover of Cats World.

As well as manning the Flying Angel Centre, volunteers will also be on hand on the dockside to offer any help and also hopefully to raise some welcome funds.

The Falmouth Tall Ships Regatta will take place from August 28 to 31 with over 40 sail training vessels from around the world due in port. There will be three days of festivities ahead of the start of the Falmouth to Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Race on the 31st.