0 items in your basket

Total: £0.00

Go to shopping basket
(0) items £0.00 Checkout

Sea, Salt and Solitude

Posted: 25 Oct 2018





The Fishermen’s Mission is a small national charity providing support and short term welfare payments to fishermen and their families in ports and coves around the country.  Fishing is the most dangerous peacetime activity: 100 lives have been lost at sea in the last 10 years.  The Mission supports with small payments towards rent or mortgages or meeting small needs, as fishermen cannot qualify for the benefit system.  The aim is to keep hearth, home and family together following an accident or death at sea, helping to get fishermen back on their feet and working again. It also works in conjunction with the NHS providing dockside access to medical and dental services and help fishing families and communities stay in touch.  They provide dignified and personalised support to those in desperate need.

Following the huge success of Salt of the Earth, about the fishing community in Newlyn which raised £40K or so in 2014.  Julian Waring (Fundraising Manager for the Fishermen’s Mission in the South West) wanted to repeat the idea in different ports.  Moving North to Newquay, Padstow, Rock and Port Isaac this project would be similar to but not slavishly like the Newlyn book.

Photography was done on location, at harbours and in boats in a range of weather conditions.  The backgrounds giving as much as the individuals: fish cellars in Port Isaac on a miserable wet March day,  Newquay harbour portraying a challenge to the surfing stereo type and shots of individuals as working pictures rather than studio portraits.  Individuals talking or laughing together, relaxed, human and varied, straight down the lens and comfortable.  Some are magnificently creative, some bleak, others raise a smile.  Chris’s photographs tell a story alone, all in black and white.

Narratives have been written from ‘interviews’ this time.  The aim being to give direct voice to their stories.  Large amounts (95% or so) are formed from exact quotes taped while talking to people, only re-configured to make them readable.  Thus meeting Deborah’s wish to create a record of people involved in fishing today.  A type of oral history.  The interviews were intended to be like conversations over a pint in the pub or over a coffee at lunch. Each worked from between five and ten minutes recording.  Some refused some were reluctant, fearful of ‘getting it wrong’.  Some astonishing short stories are recorded while others could have filled whole books.

Across the four ports themes have appeared; rather than repeat the same words, different aspects have been chosen to weave into a whole. The thread is the same, but different tones and shades of the same colours are included.  This gives the reader a sense of the complexities in these communities and how much individuals work to preserve their traditions and community spirit.


Fishermen’s Mission: the love and affection for the quiet, unassuming but critical work of the Mission has been astonishing.  Testimony of help offered and accepted, of financial giving and volunteering, a type of social cement.

Families that fish: how many types of resources in families are combined to make a living.  A living now more dangerous than ever as the economics have changed.  Working alone, away from home for long periods of time result in solitude or isolation for both fisherman and their shore family.

Isolation and polarisation within communities: a sense of this divide is recorded as is the determination of ‘in-comers’ to contribute to community in a meaningful way. 


The changing role of women: in fishing, family, working life and lifeboat crews, this theme is the most varied.  Challenging assumptions and expectations, have been reflected in the narratives.

Levels of optimism and despair: the only editorial parameter was to keep Brexit and other political issues out.  The future is expressed, sometimes optimistically sometimes despairingly but often focuses on resilience, keeping community and family pride buoyant. 

The route from sea to plate: ‘fish don’t jump from sea to plate without my help’ showing a wide variety of fishing related jobs and employment, hoping to inspire the young to see jobs in our coastal communities as sustainable with both interesting and achievable employment.

Difficult subjects: no hiding from difficulty.  The narratives describe some harrowing realities.  Raw emotions and black humour are recorded, as are the different ways individuals cope with these situations. 

Respect has been given to those not comfortable with sharing private grief.  Mental health is covered too.


All the production costs have been met by four major sponsors, Padstow Harbour Commissioners, Prawn on the Lawn in Padstow, Sharps Brewery and Jackie Stanley.

Chris Hewitt is a professional photographer and gave his time and skills to the project. 

Deborah Richards is a volunteer for the Fishermen’s Mission with a background in Cornish farming, small artisan food businesses and a writing has donated her time and skills for free

The book is available from www.fishermensmission.org (after November 3rd) various outlets across the County, The Great Cornish Food Store in Truro, shops in Wadebridge, Padstow, Port Isaac and Rock.  All proceeds will go to the Mission

Back to News Index
Back to Top
Jay House LTD T/A Fotospeed
Unit 6B, Park Lane Industrial Estate, Corsham, SN13 9LG, UK.
T: +44 (0)1249 714 555 F: +44 (0)1249 714 999 E: info@fotospeed.com
Copyright © 2021 Fotospeed
Website Design by axisfirst. Powered by axis vMerchant.
Back to Top
This site uses cookies. By continuing to access this site you are accepting the use of cookies by this site.
Read more about cookies...

Cookies are small text files stored on your device when you access most websites on the internet.

This Website uses cookies in order to make the Website easier to use, to support the provision of information and functionality to you, as well as to provide us with information about how the Website is used so that we can make sure it is as up to date, relevant and error free as far as we can. Further information about the types of cookies that are used on this Website is set out in the box below.

By using this Website you agree to our use of cookies. You can choose to restrict or block cookies set on the Website through your browser settings at any time. For more information about how to do this, and about cookies in general, you can visit www.allaboutcookies.org. Please note that certain cookies may be set as soon as you visit the Website, but you can remove them using your browser settings.

However, please be aware that restricting or blocking cookies set on the Website may impact the functionality or performance of the Website, or prevent you from using certain services provided through the Website. It will also affect our ability to update the Website to cater for user preferences and improve performance.

We don’t sell the information collected by cookies, nor do we disclose the information to third parties, except where required by law (for example to law enforcement agencies).

We may sometimes embed content from 3rd party websites such as YouTube. As a result, when you visit a page containing such content, you may be presented with cookies from these websites. We do not control the dissemination of these cookies and you should check the relevant third party's website for more information.

Cookies We Use

Cookie Description
CookieConfirm The presence of this cookie is used to remember the fact that you have confirmed that you are happy to accept cookies
ASPSESSIONIDxxxxxxxx This is a Session Cookie (session cookies are temporary and are erased when you close your browser). It identifies you from one page to the next and is used, for example, to keep track of your logged-in status.
UserID, account, password These cookies are used to remember your login credentials for when you next visit our website. They are only created if you choose the “Remember Me” option on the login page.
_utma, _utmb, _utmc, _utmz These are cookies created by Google Analytics and are used to provide us information on which web pages are the most popular, and the most popular search terms used by visitors arriving at our site.