Dame Helen Mirren – Patron of Leigh-on-Sea Endeavour Trust

Dame Helen Mirren, Patron, Endeavour Trust. Photograph: Giles Keyte

It is well known that Dame Helen Mirren lived her early years with her family in Leigh-on-Sea where they were involved in the local community, and people remember them fondly.

In September, the Chair of the Leigh-on-Sea Endeavour Trust, Michael King, contacted Dame Helen with details of Endeavour and the role the boat played in Operation Dynamo in Dunkirk in 1940. He explained how Endeavour has been restored and is now central to many activities.

He invited Dame Helen to lend her name to our Trust, as Patron, and she enthusiastically agreed, so we are delighted to be able to announce Dame Helen Mirren becomes the first Patron of the Leigh-on-Sea Endeavour Trust!

Sir David Amess, RIP

Sir David, 2nd right, on board Endeavour with the Mayor of Southend, John Lamb

The Leigh-on-Sea Endeavour Trust is shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the murder of Sir David Amess MP during a constituency meeting on the 15th October at the hands of an apparent Islamist extremist. Whether or not one shared his political views, Sir David was personable and approachable to all and a good constituency MP.

Sir David was the President of the Trust for many years and was a good friend to Endeavour, always happy to support us in our efforts to restore and maintain her as a living memorial to the fishing industry of Leigh and the heroism and sacrifice of those Leigh men that went to Dunkirk in Britain's hour of need.

Sir David was happy to give of his time and knowledge to the Trust and it would be much poorer but for his assistance and support. He will be sorely missed by us all.

Endeavour is currently flying the Red Ensign at half mast in tribute to Sir David.

AGM 2021

The eighteenth Annual General Meeting of the Endeavour Trust will be held on Friday 1st October, 2021 at 7.30 pm in Room 7, Leigh Community Centre, 71-73 Elm Road, Leigh-on-Sea SS9 1SP.

All members are welcome to attend. The meeting should take no more than an hour.

The Agenda can be found here and the Financial Statement here.

Additionally, members were treated to a lovely PowerPoint presentation of Endeavour's Year, with narration from Rob.

Endeavour's Flag at Half Mast

Endeavour's flag has been set to half-mast today as a mark of respect to Andy Barthaud, owner of East Anglia Pub Company, whose funeral takes place today.

Andy Barthaud was been a great friend and sponsor to Endeavour and we receive a yearly donation for the sale of his famous Hilda-B beer - 10p a pint, from The Peter Boat, where you can buy yourself a pint of Hilda B. The pub also features Endeavour on its sign and menus.

Thank you Andy; your generosity has made a huge difference, and your friendship will be much missed.

Photos from St Kats

Rob Everitt dropped us a few shots to give us a flavour of the weekend at St Katherine Docks for the Classic Boat Festival. Endeavour and many of her fellow ADLS vessels will now make the journey up the Thames to Penton Hook for the Veteran's Cruise.

August/September Trips

Members of Old Leigh Kayak Tours joined Endeavour for a trip to the Pier

Please find below the latest info re: trips over the rest of August and into September.

With all of these trips, we've given dedicated links to register your interest (it'll pre-populate the email subject line when you click Chris and Rob's names). We really hope that members will take advantage of the opportunity to take a trip on Endeavour as it's a great time out and also gives you a proper sense of what she would have been like as a working boat or during the Dunkirk rescue.

When the folks from Old Leigh Kayak Tours joined Endeavour for trip from Bell Wharf out to the Pier and back, this is what they had to say about their day:

"What a fantastic experience. I’ve always wanted to take a trip on Endeavour. Such a beautiful little ship with a wonderful history. Rob, Chris and the boys treated us so well. We will definitely be back for another.

"If you’re not a member, join up and take a trip, it’s awesome!"

St Kats and the Veterans' Cruise

Well, we haven't had much luck in getting Endeavour off her mooring recently! Last week's Bank of England cruise had to be cancelled due to one key crew member hurting his back (not on Endeavour!) and yesterday's outing was cancelled because of the grotty weather.

Welcome to the Summer 2021 Newsletter

Endeavour is nearly ready to return to her mooring at the Peter Boat, from where we hope that we will be able to run a decent programme of trips for members; and there's a couple of events we'll tell you about so you can get them in the calendar. We give a rundown of all the hard work that was necessary to get her ready. Our new information board is up at the Peter Boat awaiting the boat's return, and you can read about all the hard work that entailed too.

With a bit of expert digging, we've located photos of two boats that played an important role in the Leigh boats' Dunkirk experience and print these with some history; it all helps to bring to life this important part of local history.

Then we've got news of one of our stalwarts retiring from the Trust and a request for volunteers to help the Trust continue its work.

Please drop us a line if you have any comments, or visit us on our Facebook page

Ship Shape and Bristol Fashion!

We are delighted to inform members that Endeavour has returned to her summer mooring outside the Peter Boat in Old Leigh where she can be admired once more. Skipper Andy Wood oversaw the short move back to the Old Town on a dull and grey day. Here’s hoping for some sun to show her off to her advantage.

New Information Board in Old Leigh

Our information board near the Peter Boat has been in place since 2010. Treasurer Rob Everitt noticed that while the frame was still solid, it was getting more than a little rusty and the Perspex panel had dulled with age, making it a little difficult to read.

Ben & Lucy and Sarah Hide — Key Boats During the Dunkirk Mission

The last issue of the newsletter had a lot of Dunkirk-related information. Two of the boats that played a significant role in the Leigh boats' Dunkirk experience were the slightly larger vessels into which the cocklers were decanting the men they’d rescued from the beaches and the mole.

The Ben and Lucy was a wooden steam drifter, while the Sarah Hide was a steel drifter/ trawler. The boats had a fair amount in common.  Some digging by Rob Everitt and Fraser Marshall led to us finding photos of these boats and some more information.

Dates for the Diary

We hope that if the COVID situation continues to improve, Endeavour will participate in a few more events this year. Here’s three for now:

St Katharine Docks Classic Boat Festival: Sept 3-5

HMS Leigh — The Bravest Pier in the World: Sept 24-26

The Leigh-on-Sea Endeavour Trust AGM will take place on Oct 1st at 7.30pm. More details to follow, but we hope to have a range of merchandise available on the day.

Endeavour Trips - What Dates Suit You?

It should be feasible to take Endeavour out for a number of 90 minute or 11 hour trips for members in the next few months. The hope for longer trips is that Endeavour will be under sail. Members will need to bring a packed meal for longer trips.

There are a number of potential dates, and members are invited to complete an online form to indicate the dates that they would prefer.

Thank you, Alan!

Member Alan Palmer has kindly agreed to store the frame that covers Endeavour's deck in winter in his container. It ensures that the worst of the weather is kept out of her timbers, but it's a big item, so we're very grateful for Alan's kindness.

Paul Gilson Steps Down

After many years as a Vice-Chairman and skipper of Endeavour, Paul Gilson is retiring from the Trust.

Paul's hard work and dedication has been instrumental in ensuring Endeavour has been a much appreciated presence at trips such as the Dunkirk memorials, Ostende at Anchor and the annual Association of Dunkirk Little Ships Veterans' Cruises, amongst many other highlights.

Your Committee Needs YOU!

The recent death of Finlay Marshall, a much-respected and greatly-missed Trustee, coming after the loss of Chris Bailey nearly two years ago, and the resignation of Paul Gilson means that we have some key roles that need filling, to ensure the work of the Trust is as effective as possible.

Dunkirk Memorial Service, 01/06/21

A memorial service to commemorate 81 years since the Dunkirk evacuations and the loss of the Renown will be held at The Carvery, St Clements Church, Leigh-on-Sea, at 1pm on Tuesday 1st June.

An order of service can be downloaded here.

Finlay Marshall RIP

The Trust is sorry to have to announce the death of Finlay Marshall.

Finlay first became involved with Endeavour following the public meeting that was held in 2002 when the Endeavour Trust was initially established.

During his long association with Endeavour, Finlay was involved with the restoration of the boat, learning many new skills. He became a regular crew member, and was on the boat when it returned to Dunkirk in 2005, describing it as "one of the best sails I’ve had in my life."

He went on to become a respected Committee member and a Trustee. He turned his hand to whatever was needed on the boat, and had helped to paint her from top to bottom numerous times.

Finlay was one of the crew members on Endeavour when she appeared in Christopher Nolan's 2017 film Dunkirk.

Finlay used his long career in the press to manage all the news information for the Endeavour Trust Newsletter, and he would constantly badger folks for 'copy'. He was a great storyteller, and had countless local children enthralled with his many school presentations on the history of Endeavour, which he loved doing. He even met, and was interviewed by Pudsey Bear for Children in Need.

Together with Endeavour, Finlay proudly became involved with the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships, and regularly attended reunions with the boat, and where he was much respected. He felt honoured to help veterans onto the boat, and he was proud to be involved in the D-Day celebrations on Endeavour in Portsmouth in 2019.

David Norman MBE, Chairman of the Endeavour Committee, described Finlay as "an absolute stalwart of the Endeavour project from the outset. He turned his hand to anything, from crewing our boat on the Dunkirk run to preparing press releases and organising events. He was also a good-humoured participant in our Committee meetings and brought considerable expertise to our proceedings."

He will be sorely missed by his colleagues and friends at the Endeavour Trust. As fellow trustee Mike King put it, he was "Mr Dependable. He was always there." He was a lovely man.

We send our condolences to Linda and family for their sad loss at this time. They will be in our thoughts, as will Finlay.

Endeavour Information Board

The Trust's Rob Everitt is currently hard at work renovating the Endeavour information board from near the Peter Boat in Old Leigh.

The board has been in place since 2010, when it was unveiled by then Major of Southend, Ann Holland, but is now showing considerable wear and tear from being in such an exposed position.
Rob is having to employ a fair amount of elbow grease to get rid of the rust.

We're also going to take the opportunity to revamp the information on the board with some updated text and photos, so watch this space!

Welcome to the Spring 2021 Newsletter

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, it will come as little surprise to discover that our first newsletter of the year is history-based. We are delighted to be able to present an extract from a long out-of-print account of the Leigh boats at Dunkirk from a book entitled The Sands of Dunkirk by Richard Collier.

We have a piece about the extraordinary man that led the Leigh ships to Dunkirk, Sub. Lt. Martin Solomon. We're sure you will be as fascinated as we were when researching the article.

We're also putting out a call for anyone that can help us with information about the Leigh men that went to Dunkirk.

We are also asking for anyone that wants to crew Endeavour (once it is safe to do so again, of course) to get in touch.

Please drop us a line if you have any comments, or visit us on our Facebook page

The Sands of Dunkirk

Photo Montage by Fraser Marshall

In 1961, journalist, military historian and novelist Richard Collier published a book entitled The Sands of Dunkirk about the 1940 evacuation, a copy of which has recently found its way into the hands of the Trust.

The book used personal recollections and wove them together to tell the story from the first-person perspectives of those that were there. Long out-of-print, the book provides an interesting insight into what it was actually like for those involved.

In the book there is a section, slightly under a page in length, that talks about the Leigh boats. The first part is about an incident that occurred when Endeavour arrived at Dunkirk and encountered heavy shelling. The later part gives harrowing detail about the loss of the Renown.

Sub. Lt .Martin Solomon, Commander of the Leigh Boats at Dunkirk

A rare photograph of
Martin Solomon

This is a slightly expanded version of the article that appeared in the newsletter, due to the greater amount of space we have available.

Sub. Lt. Martin Solomon was the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve commander in charge of the Leigh boats at Dunkirk.

Martin Herbert Bernard Solomon was born in Kensington, London, in October 1915. His father was a prominent British Zionist who, after the war until his death in 1948, advised the British authorities in respect of Jews in the British area of Germany.

Solomon was educated at Rugby and Christ's College, Cambridge, and became a theatrical manager and producer in London, working on shows at venues including the Savoy and Kingsway Theatres. One show for which Solomon was producer was 1937's Flying Blind at the Arts Theatre, Westminster. The lead was James Mason, just as his ascent to Hollywood stardom was beginning, opposite the actress who would become his first wife, Pamela Kellino. He would also manage the rising stars John Mills and Leigh-on-Sea-born Michael Wilding.

ADLS Dunkirk Return Postponed

It will be disappointing but not surprising to members to hear that the situation with COVID-19 has resulted in the already-postponed 2020 Association of Dunkirk Little Ships’ Commemorative Return to Dunkirk, due to take place in the spring, has been postponed until 2025.

This is extremely sad but entirely necessary and we look forward to being there when it happens.

Fancy Crewing for Endeavour?

It was an objective for last year that we would take Endeavour out under sail. The virus put paid to that, but we would love to see her sailing again as soon as possible.

We’d love to do more trips and outings —  whether under sail or on motor — giving more people the opportunity to enjoy Endeavour, but to do this, we need more volunteers.

If you’re an enthusiastic weekend sailor, you’re exactly who we’d like to hear from! Training can be provided. Get in touch and as soon as we can, we’ll have you out on the water with us sharing Endeavour with the world again.

We also need people to help with maintenance and fundraising. Any time you can spare can be put to good use.

Please send an email to rob@endeavourtrust.co.uk for more information, and thank you to those that have already contacted us via the printed/emailed newsletter!

Thank You!

The Trust would like to thank Valerie Grover for the generous donation of £500 on behalf of her late husband John.

We would also like to thank John Hill and Pam Blakeby; not only does John loan his garage for Endeavour storage, but they donate to the Trust each year!

COVID-19 not only impacted our ability to get out on the water with Endeavour, but also had a big impact on our ability to raise funds in a year when significant and expensive work was required to maintain her.

Any donations are gratefully received and help keep Endeavour sailing. For donation info visit endeavourtrust.blogspot.com/p/donate.html

Who Were the Leigh Men at Dunkirk?

 In this edition of the newsletter, we have presented a long out-of-print account of the Leigh boats at Dunkirk and a short biography of their commanding officer.

We would like to have just as much information on the men who crewed the Leigh boats at Dunkirk.

If Endeavour means anything, she represents not just a wooden vessel that went to Dunkirk, but all of the men of the town who risked their lives to save others in Britain’s darkest hour, and she is also a focus to help us think about the fishing industry over the years and what it means to our town. It is vital that we preserve the connection between her and the town so that she continues to be important for future generations.