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When the Duke of Northumberland heard the full story of the heroism of Grace Darling and her father William in rowing out to rescue passengers and crew of the steamer Forfarshire in September 1838, he went on to have a great influence on her life.

Monday, 24th September 2018, 09:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 19th September 2018, 10:51 am

Jack Arrowsmith, guest speaker at Berwick Probus Club, said the Duke and Duchess insisted that both father and daughter were given gold medals for rowing out to the stranded on the Farne Islands in some of the heaviest seas of the year.

He also suggested ways in which Grace could progress after the “incredible reaction” to the rescue.

In spite of everything, Grace never allowed her head to be turned.

He said that when the story broke and it became known that a young, frail girl was involved, there were letters sent from all over.

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It normally took three adult men to row the Coble, built at Dock Head in Tweedmouth. Grace showed tremendous skill in holding it steady as her father went to the rocks to save the victims.

She did not become a celebrity, but knew she was regarded as a heroine, and invitations all over the country, including a circus in Edinburgh, were rejected.

Bamburgh was, at that time, in a social bubble, already renowned for helping people, but the reaction in Seahouses was very different and the fishermen and their wives said they faced incidents threatening life on regular occasions.

Grace’s father had recorded 107 wrecks on the Farnes in his life as a lighthouse keeper.

Mr Arrowsmith said the Grace Darling Museum in Bamburgh, where the Coble is on permanent show, attracted 51,000 visitors last year.

Grace died four years after the rescue and many said she died of a broken heart.