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BOB CURTIS: Residents rally to help Brixham fire family

By This is SouthDevon  |  Posted: January 10, 2013

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AS the initial days of 2013 drift across the calendar, my mind pondered different times from the years — many years — in the past.

One New Year’s Eve that stands out concerns the tiny harbour of Cahersiveen, in the County of Kerry.

It’s tucked behind Valencia Island on the south side of Dingle Bay and until reading the cargo manifest in the loading port of Hamburg… I’d never heard of it.

Unfortunately, the discharging berth was about two miles from the town, along unlit country roads, not the best conditions for sailors to enjoy a night in a friendly Irish pub.

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The plan was to discharge part of the cargo in Cahersiveen and the rest across the Bay in the small port of Dingle.

We’d been there before and it’s a friendly little harbour… with easy access to several sailor-friendly ‘watering holes’; just the sort of place to spend a New Year’s Eve.

It’s only about 12 miles across the Bay and the pilot was due to take us out at five that evening, giving us stacks of time to make it across to Dingle for New Year’s Eve celebrations.

When the pilot came aboard he was most apologetic, “Sure ‘tis sorry I am, Captain, but we have to delay sailing ’til morning… there’s no lights!”

“Don’t worry, Mr Pilot,” I said, “we can navigate down the creek on the radar… no problem!”

“No! You don’t understand, Captain. When you land me at the island, me bicycle’s in the shed on the quay and I’ve forgotten to renew the batteries. There’s no way I can peddle four miles home, not in the dark! No sir!”

I signed his paperwork, sent the pilot heading towards home, and with the aid of the radar, we made our way down the narrow creek, out past Valencia Island and across the Bay to Dingle… where a jolly good time was had by all.

Happy new year!

THERE are times when living in a small community has its advantages.

Family, friends and neighbours rally around when things go wrong; reaching out a hand to help or offering words of comfort.

When men and boats are lost at sea, organisations like the Fishermen’s Mission come quietly to those who are left behind.

The whole port seems to stop and pay their respects to the terrible loss that sections of the community must be feeling.

That’s something like how it felt three days before Christmas when we learned about the fire that destroyed the family home in Brixham’s Briseham Road.

More by fate than good fortune, the family were not in the house at the time.

The mother, Heidi Barton, was in Bristol at a hospital bedside, concerned about the health of one of her young children, when her son telephoned her with the horrendous news of the fire.

Brixham, being Brixham, quickly came to the aid of this poor woman and her family.

Councillors Vic Ellery, Mike Morey and Matthew James spoke of the family’s plight and made various sections of the authority aware of the tragedy.

I’m sure that a speedy response from our town council, if only to request Torbay Council to come to the family’s aid, showed that, truly, Brixham Does Care!

Reading about the fire suddenly made us realise that out in the little area we call the laundry room, there’s a washing machine, a dryer and a fridge… all run off electricity and no smoke alarm! Oops!

That’s my first purchase for the New Year!

AS each year goes by, the business of choosing Christmas presents for loved ones becomes more of a challenge.

Gone are the years when I’d search for ideal presents for my lady.

Besides, in the run-up to Christmas I was gently informed me that she possessed everything she needed.

For our wedding anniversary we’d gone really mad and purchased a ‘half-share’ each in a new microwave oven… but Christmas, also being her birthday, needed to be different.

However, come the day there was a warm smile on her face… so I’m hoping I got things right.

I’m slightly confused about what the family consider ‘right’ for the ol’ sailor because I received three pairs of woollen gloves and 38, yes 38, pairs of socks.

That was me sorted!

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