‘Dunkirk’ Released in Cinemas Across Britain and the USA

The Christopher Nolan directed film was released to rave reviews on July 21st. The film’s stars are: Fionn Whitehead, Aneurin Barnard, Harry Styles, Mark Rylance, Tom Glynn-Carney, Barry Keoghan, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Jack Lowden, James D’Arcy, Kenneth Branagh, and of course, the Endeavour. Opening weekend box office receipts exceeded £10m in Britain and $50m in the USA.

Endeavour and her skipper and crew are now stars of the big screen, small screen, radio and national and local newspapers. In the run up to, and post the film opening Endeavour has featured on BBC Look East, BBC Essex and in the Daily Telegraph, Southend Echo and Leigh Times to our certain knowledge. These  are indeed halcyon days for Endeavour and the Trust and we must use the publicity the film has brought to help our aim. This is to ensure that Leigh’s role in WWII continues to be told to future generations, at the same time remembering those from Leigh who lost their lives on the Renown.

Endeavour ‘and other ‘little ships’ on set’, with Naval destroyer as escort

At this time it is appropriate to recall the words of Vice Admiral Ramsay, the mastermind behind the evacuation, who singled out the six Leigh cockle boats for special mention: “They were all volunteers who were rushed over to Dunkirk in one day. Probably none of them had been under gunfire before and certainly none of them under Naval discipline. These were Thames estuary fishing boats which never left the estuary and only one of their crews had been further afield than Ramsgate.”

Paul Gilson was among  the other skippers/owners of ADLS boats, featured in the film, who were invited to attend the Royal  Premiere at Odeon Leicester Square on Thursday July 13th.

Endeavour’s crew and others joined fellow ADLS members at the National Film Theatre on the South Bank for a private screening by Warner Bros. the following Thursday.

Paul recalls receiving his invitation to attend the Royal Premiere.

“Imagine my surprise and absolute delight when an email from Warner Bros. arrived in my inbox. “Warner Brothers would like to invite Paul Gilson and guest to the premiere of Dunkirk - please confirm”.

I learnt later that all the skippers of the ADLS boats that had featured in the film were invited.

The first thing Heather and I noticed as we turned into Leicester Square were the high barriers surrounded by police, security and sniffer dogs. Armed Police seemed to be everywhere and then the noise, the screams of young women. Brilliant, whose brainwave was it to cast Harry Styles?

Elegantly clad stars from stage and screen were coming into view, unrecognisable from on set; gone were army, navy and RAF uniforms and wet weather gear.

The noise from the other side of the barriers, as we passed, was deafening. And there it was – ‘The Red Carpet’ - no not a myth it was real and we were walking on it.

Prince Harry, having been introduced to the stars, had taken his seat with some veterans just a few rows away. The excitement and tension built and Christopher Nolan took to the stage and uttered these prophetic words.

“I will not ask you to enjoy this film but I will ask you to experience it!”

Well, what an experience it was, emotional, almost tear jerking but a wonderful portrayal of the events of May and June, 1940 where six Leigh cockle boats played their parts.

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