A schedule of events and a planned memorial sculpture to the lost crews of the Liberty ship SS Samtampa and Mumbles Lifeboat Edward Prince of Wales has been awarded £50,000 Heritage Lottery Funding.
The sculpture, which will be sited in Porthcawl, coincides with the 70th anniversary of the greatest loss of civilian life off the Welsh coast in modern times.
Thirty-nine crew lost their lives on the Liberty ship SS Samtampa, together with the eight crew on Mumbles RNLI lifeboat Edward Prince of Wales, at Sker Point, Porthcawl.
The team who have worked to secure funding include Awen Trust, Porthcawl Sea Cadets and Porthcawl Shout Forum. The sculpture is being produced by Sculptural Design Ltd of Swansea, and has also been partly funded by a private donation of £10,000 from Dr Gilbert Clark, who passed away recently, and £10,000 from Porthcawl Town Council.
Commenting on the award, Norah Clarke, secretary of Porthcawl Sea Cadets, said: “The disaster affected many communities along the coast, and beyond, with a tremendous loss of life. It’s fitting that Heritage Lottery Fund has recognised the significance of the disaster and also the toll it took on Mumbles’ lifeboat crew.”
An exhibition on the disaster will be presented by community volunteers Porthcawl Shout forum at the Cardiff Senedd from April 24 to May 8 with a special commemoration day on May 3.
Launched by the project patron, Carwyn Jones AM, it will involve school children, college students, community groups, folk music, personal reflections and AMs. The bilingual exhibition will move to the Waterfront Museum, Swansea, and open on May 10 for around eight weeks. The technical aspects of the sculpture project will be overseen by Stuart Bentley.
Stuart’s grandfather, James Bentley, was a member of the Coastguard and auxiliaries team that assisted in the attempted land rescue operation from the time the distress signals were raised by the Samtampa captain through to the recovery of the bodies as the disaster unfolded.
Reacting to news of the funding award Gary Victor, Porthcawl Shout forum chairman, said that the organization is “delighted with the news that will help preserve our maritime heritage for future generations”, and described the award as an “inspirational conclusion to our five-year campaign.”
Richard Bellamy, head of HLF in Wales, said: “Porthcawl Remembers is a great project as it shows clearly how heritage can be a catalyst for lots of different activities and bring people together behind a common purpose. Thanks to National Lottery players, HLF is able to help communities learn about and take pride in their local heritage.”
For more information people can contact Michael Clarke at [email protected]
The disaster directly affected people from three areas: Porthcawl, Mumbles and Middlesborough, where many of the crew of SS Samtampa were from. To commemorate the anniversary, schools in the three affected areas are working together, sharing their communities’ different, harrowing experience of April 1947.
Photographic and video sharing will link the schools through science, maths, art, crafts, music, dance and drama.
Using the Literacy/Numeracy Framework for Primary Schools in Wales pupils will gain insight into the history, geography and science which conspired against the SS Samtampa. This will be presented in such a way that educational, historical, cultural, emotional and social benefits will be provided for the children.
This teaching resource, which will be available in English and Welsh, will be made available to schools in the areas involved but, as 2018 is designated by the Welsh Assembly Government as the Year of the Sea, it is conceivable that the teaching resource will be available, via the Internet, to any school in Wales thus providing a valuable input to the Year of the Sea and beyond.