sail on: my secret life as a commodore

No, we’re not talking Lionel Richie, but rather our money expert, nautical aficionado and Finance Manager, John Macdonald.

For the last 16 years, John has been heavily involved with The Square Rigger Club Charity, first as Club Treasurer and more recently as Commodore.

*Commodore: a naval rank used in many navies that is superior to a navy captain, but below a rear admiral.

The Square Rigger Club Charity

The Square Rigger Club is a charity set up to provide support in men, materiel and money for the Sea Cadets square rigged sail training brig TS Royalist and other sailing vessels in their fleet. The 40 year old charity raises money by membership subscriptions, running 2 charters a year, as well as some fundraising events. John’s role as Commodore means he chairs their committee meetings and is responsible for keeping the charity in ship-shape and on a steady course.

John’s route to Commodore began at just 15 years old in the north east Scottish fishing village where he grew up. When John was 12, he’d help a local lobster fishermen haul his creels and paint his boat. John even had his own creels to set and haul.

*Creel: a large wicker basket for holding fish.

John made the decision to join a crew of 6 on a fishing boat Alliance as their on-board cook/deckhand, fishing the west coast of Scotland and the North Sea this was extremely hard work and set the bar for all his working life.

At 18, John joined the Merchant Navy as a Seaman and for the next 5 years, he travelled the world on general cargo ships, mainly running from Europe to the Far East and back, ports included Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Manilla, Jakarta, and many other ports. He also spent 14 months on one ship going from the USA – Middle East – Far East round world via the Panama Canal.

John’s final time at sea was spent on Supply Vessels servicing the oilrigs in the North Sea and towing them to new locations. Then, in his early twenties, John found himself in Manchester and away from the water, working on the railways and later a Motorcycle Courier, which led him into the world of Accountancy.

It didn’t take long for John to make his way back to a more nautical way of life, completing a boat outfitting course for pleasure craft. It wasn’t until the year 2000 however that he crossed paths with the team at The Square Rigger.

Holidaying on sailing ship, The Royalist, John discovered The Square Rigger’s need for a committee manager and treasurer – skills he’d honed over a 22 year career in accounts and finance. Unable to resist the charms of being back at sea and involved in a world he loved, John’s affiliation with the charity began. He says, “I guess the sea never leaves you alone.”

It wasn’t until 2005 that John joined the Seventy7 family (or Photolink as it was back then), to look after our accounts department for the entire group across Manchester, London and Mumbai.

Since coming on board, we’ve welcomed The Square Rigger committee to our Manchester offices every year for one of their annual meetings, making sure we bust out the good biscuits for some of our favourite guests.

The Square Rigger Club Charity currently has over 200 members supporting their cause. If you’d like to know more and get involved with The Square Rigger Club Charity, email or visit:

Imogen Gee

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