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The Isles of Scilly

The Guy and Clare Hunter

The Watson class 'Guy and Clare Hunter' was the Isles of Scilly lifeboat from 1955-1981. When I was small I met many of the crew and heard stories of some of their famous rescues. I remember seeing them setting off for, and returning from, some of those missions. In those days the crew were called by the sounding of maroons and the boat launched down the slipway from the lifeboat house that is just visible in the background of the photograph below. I am not sure exactly when I took this particular photo, but I think it was during the Fastnet rescues of August 1979. I think the figure on the Bow is Richard Lethbridge, and the Coxswain at that time was his brother Matt Lethbridge, hence the reference in the poem.


The Guy and Clare Hunter

When I was young my heroes had
The far away and patient eyes
Of men who knew the sea,
And spoke of it with deep respect
As, scanning the horizon, they
Retold the tales for me
Of Torrey Canyon, Sevenstones,
The Western Rocks and Gilstone Ledge,
Wild Fastnet, and the rest
Of their heroic lifeboat’s calls:
That boat to which my thoughts still turn
When I turn to the west
And see the Coxswain at the helm
Hold fast against the crashing swell,
His brother on the bow,
To bring some lost soul back to shore
All safe, all well, all bravely done
My heroes, then, as now.

Peter G Knight