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26th February 2020

Proceeds from a play and book based on the life of Skipper Jim Williams who worked on the Arctic Corsair will enable the trawler’s volunteers to take their story into the local community.

Gordon Meredith and Jim Williams’ daughter Jacky Devonshire presented The Hull Maritime Foundation, a charity to support the work of the Hull Maritime project with a cheque for £1,000, made up of proceeds from books sales and donations.

A cheque presentation with Gordon Meredith, Jacky and Alan Devonshire to the Arctic Corsair volunteers, the Hull Maritime Foundation

During last year’s run of “Swinging the Lamp” directed and performed by local actor Gordon Meredith, it was agreed that the proceeds of the accompanying book of Jim’s autobiography were to be donated to support the work of Hull’s major regeneration project.

The play and book are both based on the life story of Skipper Jim Williams who worked on the Arctic Corsair when it was at sea. He started as a Mate on the ship in 1960, not long after it launched. Once the Arctic Corsair was purchased by Hull City Council and opened to visitors Jim led the volunteer team giving guided tours of the ship.

Performances of Swinging the Lamp took place on the Arctic Corsair last year

Together with Jim’s daughter Jacky and Hull Museums staff a programme of volunteer involvement has been developed, which will enable the volunteers to take their knowledge and enthusiasm into the community whilst the ship is closed for refurbishment.

Now, with the help of this significant donation, the volunteers who give their time to maintain the Arctic Corsair will deliver two projects. A ‘Memory Corner’ will be created at Redwood Glades Extra Care Facility in partnership with The Fisherman’s Mission. A space for residents to reminisce and learn. The display consisting of a fishing net will also act as a way marker for people living with dementia at the facility, helping them to navigate the building.

The second project is an oral history project involving volunteers – who worked as trawlermen or in a related industry – together with local primary school pupils. Pupils will have the opportunity to ‘interview’ the volunteers as an exciting way of learning about Hull’s fishing industry by speaking to someone who actually lived it. Conversations will be recorded so that the oral records can be used as learning resources by the school and project.

Fishermen's Mission volunteer, Thomas Nielson, delivering a net braiding demonstration

Lord Haskins of Skidby, Chair of the Hull Maritime Foundation, said: “The ‘Swinging the Lamp’ play and book were both powerful and compelling, telling Jim’s story of his life on board the Arctic Corsair. This donation will make a huge difference to the local community and we are extremely grateful to Gordon Meredith, Jackie and Alan Devonshire for their generosity.”

Gordon Meredith, said: “The piece of Folk Theatre, ‘Swinging the Lamp’ was based on my interviews with Jim as well as his auto-biography of the same name.

“I realised that the play would raise interest in Jim’s book and we made a significant number of sales from two reprints during the tours.

“When faced with a modest but reasonable profit, I discussed with Jacky the best way to use the proceeds and we agreed that Jim would want the Arctic Corsair volunteers to benefit. The timing of this as part of the Hull: Yorkshire’s Maritime City project is also very welcome and will help towards raising awareness and support for this exciting time for Hull’s maritime heritage.”