ANGELA Carswell from Longhope has returned from a 1,400 mile round trip to the ‘twin’ village of Longhope, Orkney, to mark the anniversary of its greatest maritime tragedy.
The two villages have been linked for over 55 years and since the Longhope lifeboat tragedy when all eight of its crew were lost in a storm in 1969, the connection has become even stronger.
This tragedy left seven widows and ten fatherless children out of a tiny community of just 30.
At the time the disaster touched the hearts of the people of the Forest Longhope who sent toys and clothes to its Orcadian namesake.
Angela recently made the trip to Orkney to present a cheque raised in the Gloucestershire village to the RNLI Longhope Lifeboat.
She presented the cheque to the current Coxswain Kevin Kirkpatrick, who vividly remembered Longhope’s humanitarian gesture as a child.
Angela said: “Ever since the Longhope in Orkney suffered its worst peace time tragedy in 1969, when the RNLI lifeboat, the T.G.B, set out in very stormy seas to the aid of a stricken Liberian cargo ship.
“The Longhope lifeboat was launched under the experienced control of coxswain, Dan Kirkpatrick, from the small village of Brims, Longhope, at 8pm on March 17 after a Mayday call by the captain of the 2,300 ton Liberian cargo steamer ‘Irene’ which was drifting out of control in a force nine, south-easterly gale.
“But nothing more was seen of the Longhope lifeboat until at 1.15pm the following afternoon, when the Thurso lifeboat made the tragic discovery of the T.G.B floating upside down, four miles south-west of Torness.
“A nationwide appeal went out for the mothers and orphaned children, and it was then that Longhope in the Forest raised money, and sent toys and clothes to the village in Orkney."
Kevin Kirkpatrick, the coxswain, said: “The village constantly feels humbled that people in Longhope in the Forest of Dean never forget about us up here in the North.
The ’twinning’ connection between the two villages began in 1964 when the son of the vicar, Rev Murray Penfold in Longhope in the Dean sent a postcard home but it was mis-directed to the vicar in the Orkney Island instead.
Over the next few years Rev Murray then set about raising funds for the Longhope RNLI.