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Heroine of the stormy seas – Grace Darling

Posted in Heroes and Heroines, Historical articles, Sea on Thursday, 29 September 2011

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This edited article about heroism  originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 828 published on 26 November 1977.

Grace Darling, picture, image, illustration

Grace Darling rows out to rescue sailors fron the rocks off the Farne Islands

The date was 7th September, 1838. The steamship Forfarshire, bound from Hull to Dundee with 63 people aboard, struck the dangerous Hawker Rocks in a gale near the Farne Islands, off the coast of Northumberland. The ship foundered but nine people managed to find, handholds on a rock.

The keeper of the Longstone lighthouse and his 23-year-old daughter could just see them through the storm-tossed clouds of spume.

“Poor souls,” murmured the man. “There is no chance of us reaching them in such a sea.”

“But we must try, father,” cried the delicate-looking girl beside him. “If we could get to the rock, the sailors could help us to row back.”

Before her father could reply, Grace Darling was running down the lighthouse steps. Soon the lighthouse-keeper was beside her and together they pushed the flat, square-sterned raft into the terrifying waves.

When they drew nearer to the survivors it was a miracle that the little boat was not smashed to matchwood against the rock.

Four men and a woman managed to clamber aboard the craft and the return journey began.

When Grace had helped the woman and two of the men ashore, her father and the other two survivors set out once more for the rock. Again their luck held and they were able to return with the remaining four men.

When news reached the outside world. Grace Darling became a national heroine. The Humane Society immediately presented her with a gold medal and many people clamoured to meet her.

Grace, who was born at Barn-borough, Northumberland, on 24th November, 1815, had suffered with consumption for several years, and she died from the disease on 20th October, 1842.

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