May 1st – Mayday! Mayday!

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Today hasn’t really been a day for dawn Choristers or bank holiday festivities in the same way as we would normally mark the 1st May. Somehow, a post about May poles and Morris dancers held no appeal. Instead, I found myself pondering something completely different and finding out about the origins of the Mayday call.

Mayday is an emergency procedure word used internationally as a distress signal in voice-procedure radio communications.

It is used to signal a life-threatening emergency primarily by aviators and mariners, but in some countries local organizations such as firefighters and police forces also use the term. Convention requires the word be repeated three times in a row during the initial emergency declaration (“Mayday mayday mayday”) to prevent it being mistaken for some similar-sounding phrase under noisy conditions, and to distinguish an actual mayday call from a message about a mayday call.

The “mayday” procedure word was originated in 1921, by a senior radio officer at Croydon Airport in London. The officer, Frederick Stanley Mockford, was asked to think of a word that would indicate distress and would easily be understood by all pilots and ground staff in an emergency. Since much of the traffic at the time was between Croydon and Le Bourget Airport in Paris, he proposed the expression “mayday” from the French m’aider (‘help me’), a shortened form of venez m’aider (‘come and help me’).

Officially adopded in 1948, a Mayday call is only to be used in the case of “grave and imminent danger to a vessel or persons, such as fire, sinking, man overboard etc.” So serious is a Mayday call considered to be that in many countries now anyone making a false Mayday call could be prosecuted under criminal law. It is solely intended to save lives.

Whilst the financial situation at St Andrew’s isn’t in grave or imminent danger at this point, times are challenging as the church is closed, our community centre is not being rented out and we are unable to take a physical collection at a Sunday service. Unfortunately however, the bills still keep coming! If you are able, we would be very grateful if you could make a donation, or pledge a regular amount, so that we can continue to operate in such difficult times.
Payments can be made via TWINT or bank transfer (See payments page here). If you would like to pledge a regular amount, which helps us to plan and make best possible use of the income, please click here to email the Treasurer (in confidence).

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