A day to remember the bravery of heroine Grace

A JW Carmichael  paitning of the rescue (figures attributed to HP Parker.
A JW Carmichael paitning of the rescue (figures attributed to HP Parker.
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Nearly two centuries since she and her father risked their lives to saves nine stranded sailors, Grace Darling remains one of Northumberland’s most revered heroines.

And in commemoration, the RNLI is hosting a fun-filled

event to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the rescue.

On September 7, 1838, 22-year-old Grace and her father William set off in stormy seas from Longstone Lighthouse to rescue the stricken survivors of the wrecked SS Forfarshire. The steamship had hit Big Harcar Rock and Grace spotted survivors while on watch at the lighthouse.

The pair rowed from the lighthouse in an open boat to rescue the survivors, fearing the local lifeboat would not reach them in time.

The RNLI awarded Grace and her father William its Silver Medal for Gallantry for the rescue, making Grace the first woman in history to receive such an award.

Her bravery captured the public’s imagination and her story has lived on.

Now, 175 years later, visitors to Seahouses lifeboat station on Saturday, September 7, can enjoy a day of family-friendly activities and events from 10am to 4.30pm.

These include the Lifeboat Discovery Trail, a fun heritage trail around the village, The Great Grace Paint-Off, fun finger painting for children of all ages, and Keep up with Grace, where visitors can test whether they can beat Grace’s rowing pace. These will take place from the Seahouses boathouse all day.

The arduous journey of seven fishermen who also set off in rescue of the survivors will be recreated in the William Riley, a 100-year-old wooden-keeled former lifeboat that has been restored by the Whitby Historic Lifeboats Trust.

The historic row will set-off from the harbour at 11.30am and return at 3.30pm.

Up to 12 people, including members of the RNLI Seahouses volunteer crew, will be on the boat on its day-long return journey from Seahouses to Longstone Lighthouse.

Visitors will be able to watch a search-and-rescue exercise involving members of the Seahouses RNLI lifeboat station at 1.30pm.

At 2.30pm, they can reflect on the events of that day 175 years ago, as the Seahouses lifeboat lays a commemorative wreath out at sea in the Farne Islands.

Virginia Mayes-Wright, RNLI Grace Darling Museum manager, has been central in organising the event.

“The RNLI charity wanted to commemorate the anniversary of the rescue, not only because Grace’s deed epitomises the bravery and selflessness of its volunteer lifeboat crews of today, but because Grace is an inspiration to all who learn about what she did,” she said.

All timings of the activities are weather-permitting. For further details, contact Julia Sylvester or Pamela Saunders on 01202 336225/01202 336064.