To live by the sea - North Shields Fishermen's Heritage Project


Guiding Lights: Great Grandad and Grandad

My Great Grandfather, Joseph William Dunn, lived with his family in South Shields and had a little fishing boat, a coble, which was docked on the south side of the River Tyne. It was called 'Squirt' - a funny name but I love it! Joseph's daughter, Jean, met and married Raymond Nicholson, my Grandfather, who served in the Merchant Navy during the second world war. Grandad shared Joseph's great love for the sea and traveled the world during the war, playing cricket with the locals wherever his ship docked. Our family have a deep and long connection with the sea and there is no place I'd rather be - whenever I'm by the coast and watching the boats coming and going I think of Great Grandad out fishing in his little coble and Grandad on the large merchant fleet ships. It is their stories that inspired my love for the sea and for seascape photography, there can be no better or more enduring gift.

While they both suffered hardships and injury at sea while out making their livings, both always came home and lived good long lives. Grandad lost many friends and ship mates at sea, he never really talked about that with me but you could see it in his eyes as he shared his stories.

North Shields Fishermen's Heritage Project

With Joseph and Raymond in mind, it was with no hesitation that I jumped at the chance to get involved in a small way in supporting a local community project that is raising funds for a lasting memorial for fishermen who have lost their lives at sea. It makes sense to be involved, my Great Grandad and Grandad would be if they were still here, so it was an honour to have been invited to contribute.

The North Shields Fishermen's Heritage Project invited members of the local community, including artists and photographers, to contribute their work to support the project. A growing collection of framed prints, mounted prints and paintings are available to buy from the project's new website and people can keep in touch with the project via their twitter page @NSFH_Project. A great local print company, Digitalab, are also involved and are very generously providing re-prints of my images free of charge (thanks Jeff and team :-)) - so, other than the cost of framing and postage, 100% of the cost goes directly to supporting the charity. There'll be a project launch event sometime in July and as the project grows there will be lots more to get involved in too!

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Thank you to Alison from the project for inviting me to get involved, and to the whole project team for the very warm welcome - look forward to seeing everyone in July!

2017 update - delighted to have helped the project raise well over £1,000 so far through the sale of my prints, greetings cards and use of framed prints as stand-alone raffle prizes. The project is now well on its way to achieving its fundraising target, with many local businesses having made large donations over recent months. Below are a couple of photos taken and kindly shared by Alison Spedding of some of the raffle prize winners of my framed prints.

framed prints donated to north shields fishermans heritage project

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