All praise the fishermen. June 16th Cornish Guardian

Like most shops the nation over we have a counter and on that counter we have a charity box and like most counters we only have space for one. For us it was an easy choice, the RNLI. We work in a coastal village; we play by and in the water all year long. I dive and if ever I was to get into trouble it would be the RNLI who would be first on the scene to summon a helicopter and get me to safety. Most importantly my sister is a crewman over in Pembrokeshire. When things go pear shaped Anna and other unpaid volunteers like her run out into usually horrible weather and put themselves at risk to save others. Anna would very modestly point out that she generally just ends up towing back windsurfers who’ve ended up heading for America.

So for us it’s the RNLI but if we had the space for a second box what would we have? A medical charity for me would be too painful and personal. I like Shelter Box enormously, I think what they do is great and simple so they would have initially been my second choice but a while back one of the fishermen asked why I didn’t have a box out for the Fisherman’s Mission. Now I have to be honest I’d never heard of them, it conjured up Methodist choirs standing in draughty halls sucking revolting pastilles, but Jimmy had nothing but praise for them so I investigated a bit further. Over 13,000 men and women work in the UK’s toughest and most dangerous peacetime occupation: deep sea fishing. At sea, they face death and injury on a daily basis. On land, many face insecurity and debt. And life for the 50,000 retired fishermen and their dependants is no better, with debt, inadequate pensions and scant savings meaning no respite from hardship once the fishing’s over.* The Fisherman’s Mission provides emergency aid when tragedy strikes and looks after injured fishermen or grieving families. They offer financial, practical and emotional support. They look after retired fishermen and fight their cases in tenancy disputes, ensure their homes are safe and that they are coping.

Fishing is one of the three traditional Cornish industries along with farming and mining. Well the miners have pretty much gone now and the farmers continue to struggle but the fishermen remain in a perilous industry unaltered in generations. I wonder how many of them have private health care, company pension schemes, how easy is it to go to a bank and raise a mortgage if you pay packet depends on winds and currents and sheer good luck? When I see the fisherman on the jetty mending their nets and shouting back and forth, laughing and joking I’m just glad that there is a Charity that steps in and helps when times get tough. Maybe I will have to make room for a second box. *

This week I’ve been reading The White Queen by Philippa Gregory, not impressed; drinking very bland wines, even less impressed and been listening to Tik Tok by Kesha as the boys love it. I’ve now heard it about a million times. Unimpressed all round really.

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