November 2011

On November 10th Kirton and Falkenham W.I. held their AGM, to help us with which we had a visit from our W.I. Advisor Linda Leigh. During this session we heard reports of our activities during the year plus a summing up of our financial position which is satisfactory. Mrs Iris Hitchen, Miss Valerie Bines and Mrs Judy Walker were confirmed in their positions as President, Secretary and Treasurer for the coming year. We were very pleased that Edna and Wendy have volunteered to arrange the programme for 2013 but we are also looking for people to take on various other jobs such as storing and organising the archives. Once the official business was dispensed with we sat back prepared to enjoy a talk by Mr Andy Malcolm from the Fishermen’s Mission.

Mr Malcolm lives at Chevington (the best village in Suffolk!) but originally comes from Dagenham. He used to work for British Telecom but took voluntary redundancy and was looking forward to a life of leisure when he was alerted to the vacancy at the Fishermen’s Mission by his mother-in-law. He gives at least 100 W.I. talks each year besides organising numerous collection days. When decked out in his yellow oilskins and wellies he is often mistaken for a member of the RNLI. Collection boxes are placed in nearly every fish and chip shop in the land and they are very partial to £20 notes so he told us.

He asked what sort of fish we liked and then went on to tell us of the true price of fish. Although the fishing industry in this country is on the decline 25-27 boats still come to grief each year and 16 men are lost. The Fishermen’s Mission was started 130 years ago and originally owned several converted fishing smacks which would go and minister to the fleet on the fishing grounds; they carried medical and other provisions. The last ship was decommissioned in the 1950s and they now operate from shore bases one of which is at Lowestoft, although nowadays the port can boast only 10 fishing boats. Most fishing at present is done off the Scottish and Cornish coasts.
Andy has to be on call day and night ready to offer emergency care such as in the case of a recent incident when French sailors were wrecked off the Shetlands and needed food, clothes and shelter, or when another man had his legs horribly injured by a winch and was taken to Norwich Hospital. The Mission is also involved in pastoral care involving retired fishermen and their families. Being a Christian charity they can officiate at weddings and funerals and he told us of a recent incident when they were scattering the ashes of one deceased fisherman at sea when the ashes blew back over the boat. They apologised profusely to the widow but she was not fazed –
“He got up my nose in life,” she said, “and he’s still doing it now he’s gone!”

Besides his talk Mr Malcolm also sang us two sea shanties in a magnificent baritone voice. He really should make a record!
V. E. Bines