Lone fisherman memorial now lit up for all to see
A Cornish fishing port has a new beacon to help guide weary crews safely home, writes Simon Parker.
Like the candles left burning at cottage windows in times past, Newlyn's floodlit memorial to those lost at sea will serve as a reminder to everyone of the true cost of fish.
Created by Cornish sculptor Tom Leaper, the bronze statue of a young fisherman has already won the admiration of thousands since it was unveiled by the Princess Royal.
Now, thanks to funding from Cornwall Council and the Bolitho Trust, the figure, which stands on Newlyn Green, has been fitted with floodlights.
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Visible from land and sea, its purpose is to provide a permanent memorial for the hundreds of Cornish and Scillonian fishermen, along with crews from other areas and nations working in Cornish waters, who have lost their lives at sea over the years.
The new lighting was officially switched on by Colonel Edward Bolitho, Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall. He was joined by Penzance mayor Phil Rendle, town clerk Simon Glasson and Cornwall councillor Roger Harding. Colonel Bolitho congratulated the people of Newlyn for their enterprise, describing the illumination as "splendid".
Douglas Williams, chairman of the committee responsible for commissioning the statue, said: "Remarkable generosity was shown from both within Cornwall and from around the country to make this possible.
"It is now a much admired landmark and many people come here to lay flowers and to remember their loved ones. The new lighting will give the memorial an added poignancy."
Cast in bronze and surrounded by polished granite, the sculpture was paid for by hundreds of small donations. Some £50,000 was raised from throughout Cornwall and nationwide, with donors including local children, artists and the fishing community, Prince Charles and a host of charitable organisations.
A remembrance book, detailing the fundraising and building work, with illustrations and a list of the donors, is kept in the chapel at the Fishermen's Mission in Newlyn, where all the names of lost fishermen are recorded.
Mr Williams, a former Western Morning News journalist, said the original idea had come from Shirley Stevenson, the organising group's honorary treasurer.
He said at the time: "The encouragement was exceptional, as was the willing assistance from the councils. We could not have asked for more helpful partners. Charities, small and large, contributed, and so have people everywhere.
"When Princess Anne came to Newlyn she met many members of the bereaved families and said she found the occasion 'profoundly moving'."
Mr Leaper, who lives and works in West Penwith, is well-known for his evocative sculptures. His creations can be seen on the Isles of Scilly and at several sites in Cornwall, as well as in France, Portugal and America.