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BOB CURTIS: Always keep a weather-eye

By Herald Express  |  Posted: May 30, 2014

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MANY years ago, after sorting out some engine problems while piloting a big Japanese tanker from the Bay passing Berry Head, the captain studied the old coastguard building on the Head and smiled.

"Pilot, your country is so good to be concerned for all mariners… it makes us feel safe."

I wonder what he'd say about the proposed changes to come at the end of this year, when the Brixham coastguard station closes its doors.

Politicians sometimes act like they live in a different world.

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Thank goodness the protective nature of ordinary British folk is based on keeping a weather-eye on those whose chosen life is to challenge the elements.

In the years to come, many mariners and others who venture along the coastal shore will come to appreciate the dedication of the charity organisation, National Coast Watch.

Modern communication systems mean professional sailors, fishermen, yachtsmen and the like can summon help at the press of a digital button but our maritime history reminds us there always needs to be someone keeping a weather-eye. Hence, National Coast Watch.

To show their respect and deep appreciation for this organisation, the lads of Brixham's Male Voice Choir are giving a concert at Paignton's St Andrew's Church on Saturday, June 14, at 7.30pm.

The proceeds will be given to the Froward Point Station of the NCW.

Soloist-songwriter Margaret Duffy hopes to be singing and the contact for Coast Watch is Rosemary Ellerby on 01803 752500. Your support will be deeply appreciated.

ONCE again, the community of Brixham's business folk, local historians and ordinary residents associated with the maritime interests of the ancient port, gathered to celebrate Brixfest 2014.

Partly to remember the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landing, they held a few themed events which drew those of a certain age back to those frightening, unforgettable times.

The range of different events reached 'international' standards.

During the hectic weekend, the children were not forgotten with the return of Melody the Mermaid on Monday, Children's Day.

Likewise, the history of sailing trawlers was on view via the many vessels in the heritage fleet.

There's a certain pride attached to an old vessel just lying against the quay wall, which increases as they cast off and sail around the Bay in full splendour.

It's as if new life returns to ancient timbers and the old days suddenly become like only 'yesterday'.

Long may this fine tradition survive.

IF I live to be 100, I'm sure what goes on in a woman's mind will still be a complete mystery.

More so if the lady is a politician.

Brixham town councillor Lynne Armstrong kindly sent me a copy of a letter she'd written to this newspaper and, while I could appreciate much of what she said, it felt as if she had 'surrendered' to the power-house that is Torbay Council.

I was surprised because, in the town council meetings I've attended, Mrs Armstrong always appeared to speak her mind in a forthright manner.

True, she seemed to be on Cllr Chris Lomas's side most of the time but her own views and objectives nevertheless seemed to be in favour of a strong 'voice' fighting for various items which would benefit the people of Brixham.

Sadly, her letter appeared to support Chris Lomas' suggestion to disband the town council, which surely would lead to complete domination by the 'Castle Circus Consortium'.

Ever since Brixham joined with Torquay and Paignton to be a part of Torbay, the fishing port has always felt like the 'poor relation from across the water'.

Whereas the truth is we've always paid our way — perhaps more than others — and surely deserve to be treated accordingly.

Forming a town council — call it a parish council if you must — should have been a bold stride forward.

Councillors, elected by the people to represent the town's wishes, were given the opportunity to express what they knew the residents wanted.

If we've stumbled along the way... the town hall, Shoalstone, parking and loss of funds (£37,000)... it's sadly because the 'voice' wasn't energetic or powerful enough to be heard in the right quarters.

Truth is that Torbay would find it extremely difficult to operate financially without the vast income received from Brixham's fishing industry and various car parks.

Consequently, if the right pressure is applied in the correct department, they will have to listen.

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