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Closed 24/01/2022

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£18,519
raised of £26,000 target by 431 supporters

    Weʼve raised £18,519 to Build a sculpted granite memorial to honour the Solomon Browne and Union Star crew and passengers who lost their lives.

    Mousehole, Cornwall
    Funded on Monday, 24th January 2022

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    Story

    This year is the 40th Anniversary when on December 19th 1981 the Solomon Browne lifeboat was lost with all her eight crew and along with the 5 crew and 3 passengers of the coaster Union Star.

    The MV Union Star was launched in Ringkøbing in Denmark just a few days earlier. A mini-bulk carrier registered in Dublin, Ireland, it sailed to IJmuiden in the Netherlands to collect a cargo of fertiliser for its maiden voyage to Arklow in Ireland. It was carrying a crew of five: Captain Henry Morton, Mate James Whittaker, Engineer George Sedgwick, Crewman Anghostino Verressimo, and Crewman Manuel Lopes. Also on board were the captain's family (his wife Dawn with teenage stepdaughters Sharon and Deanne) who had been picked up at Brightlingsea in Essex.

    Near the south coast of Cornwall, 8 miles (13 km) east of the Wolf Rock, the new ship's engines failed. The crew was unable to restart them but did not make a mayday call. Assistance was offered by a tug, the Noord Holland, under the Lloyd's Open Form salvage contract but Morton initially refused the offer, later accepting after consulting his owners. Winds were gusting at up to 90 knots (100 mph; 170 km/h) – hurricane, force 12 on the Beaufort scale – with waves up to 60 feet (18 m) high. In these extreme weather conditions the powerless ship was blown across Mount's Bay towards the rocks of Boscawen Cove, near Lamorna….

    A request to launch the lifeboat was made by the Union Star and the Penlee crew assembled at the Lifeboat station; Coxswain Trevelyan Richards and 7 other crewmembers prepared themselves and the Solomon Browne for launch... John Blewett, Nigel Brockman, Charlie Greenhaugh, Stephen Madron, Kevin Smith, Barry Torrie and Gary Wallis.

    At 8pm on the the 19 December 1981 the Solomon Browne lifeboat launched and met 15m waves and hurricane-force winds as she battled towards the Union Star coaster. By now neither the Navy helicopter nor the tug that had also come to her aid was able to get close enough in such conditions. Reaching the scene at around 8.45pm, Coxswain Trevelyan Richards and his brave crew made repeated attempts to get alongside and take people off the Union Star. Once, the lifeboat was thrown on top of the coaster only to slide off into the next towering wave.

    The helicopter crew could see that the lifeboat crew had some survivors aboard but that there were two people still on the coaster and one, if not two, in the water. Then, moments later, at 9.21pm, they heard over the radio:

    - Falmouth Coastguard, this is Penlee lifeboat, Penlee lifeboat calling Falmouth Coastguard.

    - Falmouth Coastguard, Penlee lifeboat, go.

    - We got four men off... look, er hang on... we got four off at the moment, er... male and female. There's two left onboard...

    The message ended abruptly but Lt Cdr Russell Smith, at the controls of the helicopter, could see the lifeboat, still apparently under control and heading out to sea. He took this as his cue finally to lift his aircraft out of the dangerous area where she had been hovering for so long and head back to Culdrose. He had assumed the lifeboat had made the same decision to turn for home.

    At this point, there was only one other witness left: the tug Noord Holland standing off, about a mile out to sea. Her skipper, Guy Burman listening to the vain attempts by the Coastguard to regain radio contact with the lifeboat, could see Union Star, the casualty vessel, right up close to the cliff and, intermittently, the lights of the lifeboat. His last view of the lifeboat was when she appeared high on the crest of a wave, silhouetted against the coaster's lights. Minutes later, the ship suddenly went dark: possibly the moment she was at last tumbled over at the foot of the cliffs.

    By the time cliff rescue teams arrived at the scene, the Union Star was already wrecked at the foot of the cliffs and there was no sign of the lifeboat. When she was eventually found, the wreckage gave no real clues as to what happened other than that she was ultimately subjected to the most shattering and violent force imaginable. The largest portion of the lifeboat, including the heavy engine compartment, was found 300m to the east of the Union Star, which suggests she met her fate here.

    ...bravery beyond belief. 💙

    Updates

    4

    • Jo Payne7 months ago
      Jo Payne

      Jo Payne

      7 months ago

      Dear Friends, We are within touching distance of our target. The amount shown on here doesn't include any 'Offline' donations as you can't enter then for a crowdfunding project. With this in mind, we are going to close the JustGiving page at midnight on SUNDAY 23rd January 2022 If you wish to donate, you have until then. We still have a few other fundraising events coming up, and this will push us over the finish line for funds. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR YOUR GENEROSITY without you all, we would not have achieved our target #onefamily

      Share this update to help us raise more

    • Jo Payne9 months ago
      Jo Payne

      Jo Payne

      9 months ago

      Thank you all for your support, the response to our appeal has been amazing. We are nearly there just about £2000 off our total, however, we would like to go a little further and raise a couple of thousand more to put a trust fund in place for ongoing maintenance. Once again, thank you all for your amazing support and messages. #onefamily 💙

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    • Jo Payne1 year ago
      Jo Payne

      Jo Payne

      1 year ago

      Thank you all for your support so far, things are going really well, we're about 55% of our target (including offline donations). We will be organising a few more fundraising events over the coming few months, so please keep an eye on our social media pages. #onefamily

      Share this update to help us raise more

    1 year ago

    Jo Payne started crowdfunding

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    Page last updated on: 1/24/2022 12.49

    Supporters

    431

    • Philip Johnson

      Philip Johnson

      Jan 24, 2022

      A fantastic way to honour and remember the crews of both vessels.

    • Ben Moore

      Ben Moore

      Jan 23, 2022

      £20.00

    • Dave & Trish Warren

      Dave & Trish Warren

      Jan 23, 2022

      We should never forget the crewmen of the Solomon Browne, volunteers who wanted only to save others and made the ultimate sacrifice.

      £50.00

    • Chris and Jackie

      Chris and Jackie

      Jan 22, 2022

      Marvellous idea. Please succeed.

      £20.00

    • Ruth Tonks

      Ruth Tonks

      Jan 22, 2022

      In memory of brother Charles

      £250.00

    • Anonymous

      Anonymous

      Jan 20, 2022

    • Sue Squibb

      Sue Squibb

      Jan 19, 2022

      A lovely lasting memorial RIP

      £20.00

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    Jo Payne

    Jo Payne

    Mousehole, Cornwall

    With the 40th anniversary this year the families of those who lost their lives on the 19 December 1981 are working with the National Trust to place a large beautifully carved granite memorial in a meadow alongside the coast path directly above where the disaster took place.

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