Cash donation helps boat fund

Henry and Brenda Napier  present a donation to George Maitland (left) watched by Bill Coates, Ernie Cooper and Brian Salt of the Elmy Restoration Fund.
Henry and Brenda Napier present a donation to George Maitland (left) watched by Bill Coates, Ernie Cooper and Brian Salt of the Elmy Restoration Fund.
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A CARING couple have marked their 50th wedding anniversary by backing a heritage project close to their heart.

Henry and Brenda Napier asked family and friends to help mark their golden wedding by giving donations to the George Elmy Restoration Project.

The Horden couple decided on the fund as Brenda, 72, a retired cleaner, used to look after David Burrell, the nine-year-old who died in the disaster. He was one of nine who lost their lives in the tragedy in November 1962.

Henry, 73, a retired police sergeant, said: “My wife used to babysit for the little boy that died.

“When we came to our anniversary, people were saying ‘what would you like?’ and we said we’d got everything we needed. So we asked people to make a small donation of money to the lifeboat restoration instead.

“We’re looking forward to seeing it being restored.”

The cash will go to covering the cost of the work on the boat which is being returned to its original state at a South Shields yard.

It was brought back to Seaham by the East Durham Heritage Group after the boat, which went on to be used as a fishing vessel, was put up for sale on eBay.

George Maitland, from Murton, is the group’s chairman and part of the restoration project.

He said: “They had been to the shop before buying bits of memorabilia and then they came in last week and told us the news.

“We’ve had a lot of donations from people, but this is something a bit different and it’s really nice of them.”

The group hopes to sail the boat back to Seaham from South Shields on June 24, when a celebration day will be held at the town’s North Dock.

Work to turn the area into a marina should be complete in the new year, with plans to turn the former lifeboat house into a heritage centre being considered.

George added: “The work is coming along well.

“There’s been a lot of time spent working stripping it down and they’ve got quite a few jobs done and they’re replanking it.

“It’s progressing well.”

Updates on the work, along with the boat’s history and details of the lifeboat disaster, can be found at www.seahamlifeboats.oneuk.com

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham