Services to mark lifeboat disaster

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TWO ceremonies will be held next week by Whitby RNLI volunteers to pay tribute to the 12 men who died 150 years ago in one of the region’s worst lifeboat disasters.

During a great storm on February 9 1861, when more than 200 ships were wrecked on the east coast, Whitby’s lifeboat capsized with the loss of all but one of the crew. The men had been attempting to rescue sailors from a stricken collier called Merchant.

The only lifeboatman to survive the capsize was Henry Freeman, who was awarded an RNLI Silver Medal and went on to become Whitby’s most renowned lifeboatman, helping to save more than 300 lives during more than 20 years as Whitby RNLI Coxswain.

There will be a short Act of Remembrance on Wednesday 9 February at Whitby RNLI lifeboat station. And on Sunday February 13 at St Mary’s Church, East Cliff, Whitby, a Service of Commemoration will be attended by the lifeboat crew and the Bishop of Whitby. Marske Fishermen’s Choir will perform a song written about the disaster.

The 12 men who died were John Storr, William Storr, John Dixon, Robert Leadley, Matthew Leadley, Robert Harland, William Walker, Isaac Dobson, John Philpot, William Tyreman, George Martin and Christopher Collins.

Descendents of the 12 men who would like to attend the Act of Remembrance at Whitby Lifeboat Station should contact the RNLI on 01947 602216.