I really couldn't help but have this song in my head
One of my favourite hymns is Eternal Father. You know the one, dedicated to all those who work on the water and who, one day, may be in peril on the sea.
It’s a hymn that took on special meaning when I attended a funeral, because it paid tribute to a man who had spent his life with the sea, either working on it or living next to it.
It was nice to know those whose lives and livelihoods depended on the whims and vagaries of the winds and tides had a special hymn, just for them.
Believe in God or not, something like that is just nice to have as a bit of a back-up.
Perhaps I’m a romantic, but I couldn’t help but have the song in my head when I read two stories in The News last week.
The first was the 100th anniversary of the RNLI rescue service at Hayling Island, and the other was the opening of the exhibition dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Jutland, the defining – and most devastating – naval battle of modern history.
Two very different events, but two common themes.
In the past 100 years, the Hayling lifeboat has been launched 2,762 times and rescued 1,802 people – saving 503 lives in the process.
It’s quite incredible that this service is run as a charity, relying on fundraisers to keep it, erm, afloat.
Volunteers go on to the water when the call comes through, regardless of the time of day or weather.
There was no such help for the men fighting on both sides of the Jutland conflict, which is the subject of a new exhibition at Boathouse No 5 in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard.
More than 6,000 men – mostly British – lost their lives during the battle that was to define Britain’s superiority for, despite enduring heavy losses in both steel and personnel, the Royal Navy was ready again to fight the next day. But the German challenge for North Sea dominance was never repeated.
Both anniversaries deserve to be marked, and both deserve our gratitude. Either for lives lost to protect lives at home, or for saving those in peril on the sea.