Remembering Grace’s rescue – 180 years on

TV presenter Alexander Armstrong on a visit to the Farne Islands with boat skipper George Shiel.
TV presenter Alexander Armstrong on a visit to the Farne Islands with boat skipper George Shiel.

Tomorrow marks 180 years since Grace Darling’s heroic rescue.

Grace became a Northumberland and national heroine after she helped rescue survivors from the shipwrecked Forfarshire in 1838.

The paddle steamer had run aground on the Farne Islands and Grace and her father William decided to row across from their home at Longstone Lighthouse to help save people’s lives.

Grace kept the coble steady in the water while her father helped men and a woman into the boat.

The aftermath of the rescue spread the name of Grace Darling throughout the land and then beyond these shores. And now, 180 years later, the story of Grace’s rescue continues to inspire and amaze.

George Shiel is the only Seahouses boatman licensed by Trinity House to run the only boat allowed to land on Longstone Island and visit Grace’s family home in the lighthouse.

George has seen a great interest in visitors all wanting to have their photograph taken in Grace’s bedroom and look out of the window she did.

Among the recent visitors has been Alexander Armstrong, the Rothbury-born host of television quiz show Pointless, who made the trip to the lighthouse with his family.

Grace passed away on October 20, 1842 – just four years after the rescue. She was 26. Tuberculosis was recorded as the cause of death.