Finding Luxury in the Ordinary

Posted on Wednesday 24th April 2019

For many of us the simple act of hanging up a shirt or putting a pair of jeans away in the draw is taken for granted, but for those who have worked on the deck of a trawler their whole life, it can be a luxury.

Hauling nets against a backdrop of harsh winter storms as icy waves crashed all around was normality for George, a Brixham fisherman. Now retired and living alone, life for George is extremely tough. Brixham Superintendent Matt Skinner takes up the story,

“George was barely existing on a very low income and needed items for his unfurnished flat. I arranged the purchase and delivery of a chest of drawers and a wardrobe from a local second-hand furniture store. Now George can move his clothes out of suitcases and feel settled in his new surroundings. It’s a simple thing but for George, it meant the world.”

Matt and his team cover the coastlines of Devon, Dorset, and Somerset, supporting many active and retired fishermen and their families. His daily routine sees him dealing with everything from practical help concerning budgeting, healthcare and child support to giving emotional help to those confronting loss and loneliness.

However, like all his Fishermen’s Mission colleagues, the routine can be broken at any time with an emergency. Matt recalls one such moment, “I received a call on Saturday evening from a local hospital. A rather perplexed Doctor had just discharged an injured French fisherman and was at a loss as to how to get him home. After contacting the French Consulate for advice, I set out for the hospital. On the way, the consulate called me saying the had booked a berth on a France bound ferry, but it was leaving within the hour! Sticking to the speed limits along the highways and byways of Devon in my trusty Fishermen’s Mission car, I arrived at the hospital. Cries of ‘allez’ and ‘vite’ followed but we managed to get the injured fisherman across town in time to catch the ferry home.”

Matt is also involved in fundraising, the Brixham Fishstock Festival being one of the highlights. Matt comments,

“It’s exciting seeing the journey from the money being raised to then using that money to help fishermen and their families who are in need.

**The actors in the images are not a true reflection of the characters**