NORTHUMBERLAND’S favourite weather man has a new job – teaching people about a local heroine.
Ex-Tyne Tees forecaster Bob Johnson has been working as a guide at the Grace Darling Museum in Bamburgh and it’s all down to the Northumberland Gazette.
Bob spotted an advert in the Gazette for volunteers and decided to offer his time at the busiest RNLI museum in the country.
And his friendly banter is going down a storm.
The museum, which is now free of charge, welcomes visitors from as far as Australia and relies on two members of staff working each day.
In an attempt to keep his favourite museum open, Bob has been volunteering there for nine months.
“After seeing an advert in the Gazette, I spoke to the manager of the museum and I’ve been working a few hours every week along with other volunteers,” said Bob.
“It’s great, I’ve met a lot of nice people and it helps keep the museum open which is the most important thing.
“For me it’s filled a nice little niche and I feel I am doing some good for the RNLI.”
In September, 1838, a young Grace Darling and her father William, the keeper of Longstone Lighthouse, took a rowing boat through raging seas to the wreck of the SS Forfarshire which had foundered on the rocks.
Their courage saved 13 people from the wreck.
Having spent years teaching his three daughters about the historic tale and taking them to visit the old museum, Grace Darling has always been a story close to his heart.
In fact he was so hooked on Grace that he often mentioned her in a number of his TV weather forecasts.
He said: “When I was at Tyne Tees we were always looking for something to hang your forecast on, and at least three times a year I would do Grace Darling, the anniversary of her birth, the anniversary of her death and of course the storm, so I was always plugging her.”
Having lived in Lesbury for 20 years Bob now calls Northumberland his home.
He has spent 33 years travelling the world working as a weather forecaster for the Met Office.
But it was after a car crash in Morpeth that he met his wife Joan, a nurse who tended his wounds at Newcastle General Hospital.
In the years to come he settled in Northumberland, going on to work for Newcastle Weather Centre and ITV Tyne Tees where he spent 17 years as the face of North East weather.
Although his time as a weatherman has come to an end, his passion for Grace Darling continues to grow.
Bob admits he has become infatuated with the RNLI and the Grace Darling story.
“I’ve had the great privilege of being asked to go to lifeboat fetes up and down the country to open them so I’ve became very attached to the RNLI.
“Grace Darling has always been a heroine to me, so it’s nice to be involved with something which appeals to every generation.
“It’s just an amazing story of a young girl from Bamburgh who did a fantastic rescue with her dad.”
When he’s not at the museum, Bob finds himself either doing the school run for his eight grandchildren, walking or reading.
And you still can’t keep him off the screen, Bob has also been working with well-known local film maker Jimmy France on a documentary due to be released this March.
The film, based on farmers’ markets, will involve Bob visiting farms all over Northumberland in search of locally-sourced produce.
Schools and village halls across the county will be treated to screenings of the production.
Sky channel Horse and Country will also show the film.
In Bamburgh, Bob’s stints at the museum are appreciated by not only visitors, who are delighted to see a familiar face, but also staff who are pleased to have him on board.
Sarah Sells, shop manager at the Grace Darling museum said: “It’s great to have Bob here with us.
“He is a very interesting man and great fun. He is such a warm and receptive person which is exactly what we need here.
“Plus we can ask him about the weather which is a bonus!”