Links to Lundy
PUBLISHED: 13:00 27 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:33 10 June 2010
A WITHYCOMBE pensioner has, for the first time, uncovered facts about her late father's life 75 years after his death - by reading a book. Barbara Norrish, 75, from Denning Court, moved with her mum, two sisters and brother from Lundy Island when she was
A WITHYCOMBE pensioner has, for the first time, uncovered facts about her late father's life 75 years after his death - by reading a book.Barbara Norrish, 75, from Denning Court, moved with her mum, two sisters and brother from Lundy Island when she was just a toddler - after tragically witnessing her dad, Charles Smaldon, drown in the Bristol Channel, aged just 26. She admits that for years she knew relatively little about her dad - but all that changed when her son, Colin, painstakingly researched and produced a family tree to commemorate her and her husband Mike's golden weddinganniversary."The family tree rekindled an interest in my family history," she said. "Then I remembered I had been given a book that mentioned my father - things I didn't know. So I started reading."The book, My Life on Lundy by Felix W Gade, references her dad on at least 24 separate pages."He was a general helper; driving a horse cart around picking up people from the landing point where ships came in. He was very well known."But then in 1934 tragedy struck: "He used to drink with his friends at the island's only pub, the Marisco Tavern."My brother Jack and sister Irene have told me they remember standing next to my mother looking at my father in the water. They thought it was a little bit strange because he couldn't swim"He was waving his arms and shouting, and they waved back. It looked as though he was enjoying himself. "But he was the only one who couldn't swim."When he died, her mum Margaret, a chambermaid, was left to bring up Barbara who was just seven months old, her six-year-old brother, and her two sisters aged five and three, on her own."She just couldn't cope. There was no family allowance or support. We went back to Capford to live with my grandmother."Since then we have been back once, in the '50s."We tried to go back a few years ago - but it was too windy to make the crossing.