Farnes boat skipper expecting a busy year

A boat operator is gearing up for the 180th anniversary of Grace Darling's famous rescue of the survivors of the wreck of the Forfarshire off the Farne Islands.

Wednesday, 21st February 2018, 10:47 am
Updated Wednesday, 21st February 2018, 10:52 am
George Shiel with his boat, Golden Gate.

Boatman George Shiel, who has the only licence issued by Trinity House to land on Longstone and visit Grace’s home in the lighthouse from which she made the rescue with her father, is getting everything ready for an expected surge of visitors this year.

“We are getting inquiries from schools already,” he revealed.

“The story is told in not only Northumbrian schools, but all over the country and we have even had visitors from Germany and Australia to the lighthouse, whose children have studied the story at school.”

It’s that time of year again when his boat, Golden Gate, is taken out of the water onto the quayside at Seahouses Harbour to be repainted, varnished and given a general overhaul and maintenance.

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George added: “We’re also stocking up on dog biscuits for on board as the word has got around that we’re also the only boat that allows dogs to land on the islands.”

Grace Darling achieved worldwide fame for her act of outstanding courage, as she and her father William rowed out in a coble from Longstone lighthouse to save nine people in the early hours of September 7, 1838, during a violent storm.

News of this great act of courage from a young woman spread like wildfire. Presents, donations and requests for her likeness, her autograph and locks of her hair were never ending. She was awarded a gold medal from the Royal Humane Society, the young Queen Victoria personally sent her £50 and she became a celebrity even though she desperately wished to turn her back on all the fuss and attention. Her health began to decline and she died in 1842 – just six years after the rescue – from tuberculosis.

For information on Golden Gate Boat Trips, visit www.discoverthefarneislands.co.uk