Friday, 25 March 2011

The fisherman's wife and the cruel sea

The highlight of yesterday's Westminster Hall debate on the coastguard station closure plans was undoubtedly a speech by Sheryll Murray, the Conservative MP for Cornwall South East.

The wife of a Cornish fisherman, she made an impassioned plea against the closures, drawing on her personal experience of living in fear of the ocean for 25 years.

Then, with terrible irony, came the news this morning that her husband, Neil Murray, has died in an accident aboard his trawler.

Murray, an experienced fisherman, was apparently drowned while fishing alone on "Our Boy Andrew", 24 miles off the Cornish coast.

His wife's words in the Westminster debate, uttered while he was on his last voyage, stand as heartbreaking testament to the danger of the sea and her own bereavement.

She concluded her speech:"The sea can be the most beautiful place in which anybody can spend their time, but it can change quickly-believe me, I know after living for 25 years in fear of seeing the sea change overnight or within hours. One thing my experience has taught me is that we must have respect for the sea at all times. If we lose that respect and believe that we can beat the sea, we are finished.

"While I welcome the extension to the consultation period, when the Minister looks at the responses, I urge him to ensure that he does not lose respect for one of the most dangerous but beautiful elements in the world. If he does, not only will he let down fishermen's wives such as myself, the wives of sailors and other users of the sea, such as our young people, but he will let down the whole nation."

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