Filmmaker’s screen tribute to George Elmy lifeboat disaster

Members of East Durham Heritage Group, with the George Elmy lifeboat in the background.
Members of East Durham Heritage Group, with the George Elmy lifeboat in the background.
0
Have your say

A film-maker turned to his home town to put together a tribute to the men who lost their lives in a lifeboat tragedy – and those who have ensured its legacy will live on for decades to come.

Mick Johnson, 44, from Seaham, has created The George Elmy film after he was inspired by the witness testimony of Donald Burrell, the sole survivor of the 1962 disaster.

I think it’s a great story and it’s full of heroic and incredible people who serve to be known by a wider audience.

Mick Johnson

Nine lives were lost, including two of Donald’s family members, when the lifeboat capsized as it returned to shore, after rescuing the crew of a fishing boat.

Now the story of that November night and the restoration of the boat by East Durham Heritage Group has been recorded for all to discover.

A dramatisation of the story, narrated by Seaham opera singer Sir Thomas Allen, is followed by a documentary about the revamp, which have seen the boat go on show in a harbour museum.

The film will be premiered next week at an invitation-only screening in town.

Mick, who now lives in Durham, made the film in his own time over two-and-a-half years with the support of the disaster victims’ families.

He said: “I think it’s a great story and it’s full of heroic and incredible people who deserve to be known by a wider audience.”

Brian Scollen, who was part of the award-nominated team which fundraised and worked on the restoration with boat builder Fred Crowell, said: “I’m over the moon with the film.

“I think people will react to it in the same way they did when the boat came back, and we’ve now had 60,000 people in since we opened in 2013.”