Not only was this weekend the Big EAT weekend in Newcastle, it was also the anniversary of the heroics of one of the North East’s treasures: Grace Darling.
Grace Darling was only 22 years old when she participated in the rescue that made her world famous.
Grace was brought up in the tiny village of Bamburgh in Northumberland; the daughter of the lighthouse keeper. On 7th September 1838, from the lighthouse window, Grace spotted the Forfarshire foundering on the rocks of the Farne Islands during a ferocious storm. The seas were too rough for the lifeboat to launch from nearby Seahouses, and so Grace persuaded her father that they should take out their little fishing boat onto the rough sea and attempt to rescue the survivors.
Grace and her father rowed into the storm to the rocks on which the few survivors sheltered. Whilst her father clambered onto the rocks to help the survivors into the little boat, Grace had to hold the boat steady in the pounding waves.
News of the rescue spread like wildfire throughout the UK and abroad. Grace became an instant celebrity. People sent letters and gifts to her, and came to Bamburgh to capture a glimpse of her. She was the subject of paintings, portraits and poetry. She was asked to give endorsements and make personal appearances at events.
Grace always shied away from the limelight and tragically died aged only 26 as a result of tuberculosis.
Her name has lived down through the ages and is synonymous with selfless acts of bravery. Today, visitors still flock to her grave at St Aidan’s church and to the Grace Darling Museum RNLI Museum, both in Bamburgh.
What does this have to do with 500adventures?
Grace Darling was a Northumbrian lass, like me, and she is therefore a local hero. But that is not why I wanted to write about her.
Grace Darling is an example of the fact that we can achieve anything we set our minds to even against the odds, and we are capable of much more than we think.
When I first decided that I wanted to travel around the world, I kind of half expected that it wouldn’t happen. Right up to the day that I booked the tickets, I couldn’t quite believe that it was real. It just wasn’t the kind of thing that I would do. It was hard work to make it happen as well. I scrimped and saved and cut out every non-essential from my life to save enough money to make my dream trip happen. It was tough, but it was worth it. My life is so much richer as a result of travel.
Travel can be scary too. I was petrified the night before we left. On the plane coming to land in New York I felt so nervous, because that was it – Jim & I were going to be on our own, actually living the dream that we had been working towards for such a long time.
For anyone who is thinking about travelling for the first time, my advice is just go ahead and do it. Even if it seems impossible, you can make it happen. Facing the fury of a storm in a tiny fishing boat, the chances of reaching the rocks and rescuing the survivors must have seemed hopeless to Grace when she set out with her father. But she persevered and succeeded. You can to – there will be a way around whatever is holding you back from travelling, whether it is money or time or other people’s opinions.
Or maybe it is your opinion of yourself – you might think that you are not cut out for travel. It’s not for everyone. But the only way to know is to try, so be brave. There are not many people in Victorian England who would have believed a young 22 year old woman would be capable of holding a boat steady in a fierce storm – maybe Grace even doubted herself whether she could do it. But she did and you can too – you will find that you are capable of much more than you might think.