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Lightshipman's ashes scattered at sea

PUBLISHED: 14:47 18 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:45 30 June 2010

Lightshipman Charles Wood

Lightshipman Charles Wood

A legendary lightshipman was granted his dying wish on Sunday when his ashes were scattered between the piers by Great Yarmouth and Gorleston lifeboat crew.

A legendary lightshipman was granted his dying wish on Sunday when his ashes were scattered between the piers by Great Yarmouth and Gorleston lifeboat crew.

For 38 years, Charles Wood journeyed through the harbour's mouth to take up duty on board one of 11 lightships helping vessels to steer a path amid the maze of sandbanks off the Norfolk and north Suffolk coast.

Mr Wood was the son of a Merchant Navy captain awarded the MBE for bringing his ship home despite two broken legs, after hitting a mine during the second world war.

His widow June Wood said this week he loved life at sea and wanted to be just like his father, following in his footsteps to become first mate with Everards boats.

Having known each other since June was 14, the couple married in 1950. As a newly wed June said she was lonely during his long stints at sea and persuaded him to join the Trinity lightships working a month a time. It was a career that was to last 38 years.

His dying wish, just months after discovering he had lung cancer, was to ask one more favour of the lifeboat station that plucked him from his lightship when his mother was dying so that he could be by her side.

Mrs Wood said: “He said to me: 'Do you think the lifeboat would take my ashes and put them in the sea outside the harbour?' I loved him so much and wanted to please him. All his life he wanted to be like his dad, a captain in the Merchant Navy. His dad taught him everything until he was first mate.”

Lifeboatman Rob Carroll said the poignant service was carried out while the crew stood on the stern, heads bowed as the boat was pointed out to sea. A minute's silence followed the poignant service.

“It is not something that we do regularly but it was a privilege to oblige,” Mr Carroll added.

Mr Wood, was proud to say he never had a day off work and had been a master at one time or another on all the lightships stationed off the coast.

He died on December 16 in Northgate Hospital after radiotherapy failed to arrest the lung tumour that had spread to his stomach and brain. He was 82.


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