Spring 2015 Newsletter

Welcome to the first newsletter of 2015 and we take this opportunity to wish our members a prosperous new year. This year marks the anniversaries of many historical events. These include the Battle of Waterloo (200) 18th June 1815, Magna Carta (800) 15th June 1215, Battle of Agincourt (600) 15th October 1415, First English Parliament (750) 20th January 1265, Death of Sir Winston Churchill (50) 24th January 1965, VE Day (70) 8th May 1940 and, the most important, for Endeavour, the Dunkirk evacuation (75) 27th May to 4th June 1940.

This issue is tinged with sadness with the passing of Dave Spurgeon, trustee and committee member, but also able to recognise awards to our President Sir David Amess, committee member Finlay Marshall and friend John Milgate.

Commemorative Return to Dunkirk

The evacuation of Dunkirk
One of the most famous British triumphs of the Second World War emerged out of crushing defeat – the 'miracle of Dunkirk', which saw thousands of allied soldiers evacuated from the beaches of France. The evacuation, which took place 75 years ago, entered folklore for the actions of the 'little ships' like Endeavour that rescued soldiers and helped prevent a catastrophic defeat.

Codenamed Operation Dynamo, the entire evacuation was coordinated in the Secret Wartime Tunnels beneath Dover Castle.

With a little over three months to go the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships are firming up on the details of the events which will make up this memorable commemoration. It is anticipated that in excess of 60 little ships will take part. Naturally details are preliminary and given for guidance and planning purposes only. Prior to the actual Commemorative Return we have been invited to participate in an event at the Royal Harbour, Ramsgate. Details of all the events, as presently known, together are indicated below.

We are also participating again this year in Ostend at Anchor which takes place the weekend after the Return to Dunkirk.

We are considering arranging coach or minibus transport, including overnight accommodation on Saturday 23rd May, for members and friends who wish to experience this unique commemoration for themselves.

There are also opportunities for members to 'join the crew' on board Endeavour on some or all of the voyages: Leigh to Ramsgate, Ramsgate to Dunkirk, Dunkirk to Ramsgate, Ramsgate to Ostend and Ostend to Leigh.

In order that appropriate arrangements can be made will you please telephone Mike King or email Peter Dolby indicating your interest.


Preliminary timetable

Tuesday19th MayDepart Leigh for Ramsgate. Dinner at Temple Yacht Club.
Wednesday20th MayFallback day for passage to Ramsgate.

Ramsgate Dynamo Day celebrations to include an ADLS service at the Sailor's Church, a visit by VIPs and a parade through the town as follows:
10.30Church Service for the crews of the Little Ships at the Sailor's Church in Ramsgate.
11.30Service for local people in a marquee at Ramsgate Royal Harbour.
11.30-12.30Little Ships open to the public.
12.30Military Parade honouring the people connected with the event.
13.30Thanet Mayor's Reception for guests at Ramsgate Maritime Museum.
15.00VIP Inspection of the Dunkirk Little Ships with flypasts of Spitfires and Hurricane.
15.30-16.30Little Ships open to the public.
19.001940sNight in the Marquee on the Harbour.
Thursday21st MayPassage to Dunkirk. 
Friday22nd MayFallback day for passage to Dunkirk .

Late PMService at the British Memorial, Dunkirk Military Cemetery
Saturday23rd MayThe main commemorative event will be the official service at the Beach Memorial to be held mid-afternoon.

18.30Return Supper - coaches depart
Sunday24th May
11.00ADLS commemorative service, led by Hon. Chaplin Gordon Warren, on the quayside adjacent to the Little Ships.
Early afternoonParade of military vehicles, bands and local organisations through the streets of the town.
EveningReception for the crews at the Dunkirk Museum
Monday25th MayDepart Dunkirk for Ramsgate.
Tuesday26th MayFallback day for passage to Ramsgate or rest day at Ramsgate prior to making passage for Ostend at Anchor.

David George Spurgeon 3rd August 1947 - 6th January 2015

Dave, with Endeavour in the background ready for white weeding,
is seen here in the early 1970s mooring the skiff on the 
running mooring.

Dave Spurgeon was born in Leigh. His father and uncle were Spurgeons the builders who built many properties in Leigh.

Dave went to West Leigh and Belfairs schools along with a generation of cocklers and fishermen during the early 1950s and 60s. He went out with the Osbornes on the Renown at weekends and during holidays - he wanted to be a fisherman as soon as he could.

Whilst working on the Ilene, a Scottish fishing boat, out of Folkestone he thought they'd caught a tyre in the net. On reaching into the cod end to pull it out he found he had pulled a large Conga eel towards him and it lashed out and chased Dave round the back of the wheelhouse.

Back in Leigh telling his stories of working the English Channel earned him the nickname 'Deep Sea Dave' which lasted for the rest of his life.

In the 1970s he partnered Peter Wexham on Endeavour  shrimping, fishing, pair trawling and white weeding. Eventually taking over on his own and working Endeavour for many years.

Dave has been a larger than life character around the Old Town and will be missed by all, even those he argued with.

In later years he had boats working out of Holehaven. After giving up trawling he became one of the best anglers around.

Dave has been involved with the Trust for many years and was a Trustee and committee member.

We are indebted to Dave for many reasons. He was always to the fore at events in which Endeavour was participating and as recently as the Leigh regatta in September Dave was busy recruiting members.

He introduced the Thames Group and Dauntless Chandlers as valued sponsors and skippered Endeavour on a number of occasions over recent years.

Dave last skippered Endeavour in 2013 when along with BBC Essex and the new Renown went out off Thorpe Bay to recreate traditional cockling using rakes, yokes and baskets. This was filmed and together with interviews with past generation cocklers and other fishermen including 'Deep Sea Dave' is used as part of the Trust's community and educational programmes.

Community and Educational

An enquiry received via our website put us in touch with the Springfield Primary School in Chelmsford. Their years 5 and 6 were studying key turning parts in World War 2, beginning with the evacuation from Dunkirk. They were particularly looking at a group of fishing boats from Leigh that sailed to the rescue.

Peter Dolby was delighted when Year 5 teacher Mrs Faulds   invited him to visit the school and talk to the children about Endeavour, especially her role as one of the six Leigh 'little ships'.
On arrival Peter learnt that in November the children had been set a homework project which included using the internet to research the story of the fishing boats from Leigh, making a model of a Dunkirk 'little ship' and preparing a fact sheet of the evacuation from information provided to them.
As a consequence Peter found that the children had a profound knowledge of the evacuation and specifically the involvement of the Leigh boats. There was genuine interest and many intelligent questions were asked.

The classroom  was decked with information and after Peter's talk the children proudly displayed the model boats - as seen in the photograph above.

As always the children enjoyed trying the yoke and baskets and were amazed at how heavy they were - empty!

Peter has given three talks to local community groups since the last newsletter and a further six are booked for later this year.

Annual Dinner

Guests enjoying the food and facilities of the Estuary Club’s function room
A record 77 members and guests attended an enjoyable dinner on 14th November in the Estuary Club’s function room. This happened to coincide with Vice President and Trustee, Jeremy Squier’s 80th birthday and he had a table of 19!
Jeremy toasts his 80th birthday cake!

Finlay Marshall, on behalf of the committee, presented  Jeremy with a suitable birthday cake to mark the occasion.

The evening concluded with the raffle draw and a thoroughly entertaining speech by our skipper, Paul Gilson. We are extremely grateful to all the members who generously donated raffle prizes which enabled the Trust to raise in excess of £700 much needed funds.

The summer reception is booked for Thursday 11th June  which we hope will take place at Osborne Bros. on Billet wharf. We are extremely grateful to Peter Osborne for  allowing us the use of his premises and helping with the catering arrangements. The Crooked Billet PH is close at hand for wine, beers and other liquid refreshment. Endeavour will be fresh back from voyages to Dunkirk and Ostend and will have pride of place on the Osborne dock adjacent to Billet Wharf.

Photo Gallery

It’s always a good idea to carry a camera, unless you’ve a camera ‘phone, so that you can grab that photograph moment. Richard Baxter seized the moment to take this picture of Endeavour on a misty morning earlier this month.

Photo: Richard Baxter
 In December Rob Everitt was passing Bentley opticians in Eastwood Road  North and couldn’t help but notice that his wife had found that his sweat shirt and newsletter had added to their window display of Old Leigh!

Photo: Rob Everitt

We’d love to include some more of our members’ photographs so please have that camera, or camera ’phone, at the  ready. Please forward them to Peter Dolby for possible inclusion in future newsletters and on our website. All photos will be added to our collection and fully credited.


Thank you to everyone who purchased calendars and Christmas cards. Special thanks to The Lynn Tait Gallery for selling so many calendars and to The Leigh Times Group for covering our sales in their newspaper.

Everyone’s efforts meant that not only the original print run of 200 but a further 40 calendars were printed and sold.

Thanks again to Lynn Tait for arranging post cards printed from two recent photographs. These are shown here and are available for sale at just 25p per card. For our full range of merchandise, including shirts, prints and greetings cards please visit our merchandise page or contact Peter Dolby.

Many Thanks and Congratulations

John Milgate being interviewed by BBC Essex in the early days;
“Yes it is possible”
Two worthy individuals have been honoured by the Trust - John Milgate and Finlay Marshall.

John is one the country's leading experts in boat restoration, and we invited him to view Endeavour on her return to Leigh, and advise on how to proceed. He not only suggested ways to 'hold her together' prior to reconstruction, but also found a place to carry out the work, and who best to do it. So Endeavour was moved to Great Totham where the site owner Rupert Marks made amazing facilities available, and Brian Kennell and Shaun White were able to do the extremely skilled work. John continued to advise as work progressed and we are delighted he has accepted our invitation to become a Vice President.

Finlay, tea in hand, poses for the camera en route to St Katherine Docks
Once Endeavour returned to Leigh there has always been one volunteer ready to do anything necessary – Finlay Marshall. He cleared the boat of the rubbish collected over many years in the Kent boatyard, has crewed the boat, heaved and hauled – and even made the tea! A most reliable member of the Management Committee, we are pleased to welcome him as a Trustee – well deserved.

Our President

David receiving the model of the memorial
in St Clements churchyard from the
late David Atkinson MP, a great supporter
of Endeavour
When the Trust was formed we invited David Amess MP to become our President, and he agreed at once. Since then he has followed our fund-raising and other activities with enthusiasm. We have welcomed him on board Endeavour and at many social and official events.

We, were therefore, absolutely delighted with his knighthood which is well deserved – Arise Sir David!