Grace Darling was just 22 when she helped her father rescue the survivors of a shipwreck on the Farne Islands off the Northumberland coast. It was a moment of instinctive heroism that would change her life forever.
IN the early hours of 7th September, 1838, the Forfarshire, a paddlesteamer laden with cotton, broke apart on Big Harcar, a rocky outcrop of the island of Outer Farne.
Distress flags flew and signal guns fired at Bamburgh Castle, but no lifeboat could escape the shore in the raging storm.
As grey dawn spread in the sky, Grace Darling, daughter of the keeper of Longstone Lighthouse on Outer Farne, anxiously scanned the rocks through her telescope.
Shortly before seven, she spotted nine of the sixty-one passengers and crew still clinging onto the rocks: Mr Donovan with a smashed leg, Mrs Dawson still holding her two dead children by the hand, and Mr Ritchie who had watched as his uncle and aunt were swept away.
The lighthouse coble was too big for her father William to handle alone, but during breakfast Grace overruled his misgivings and insisted on accompanying him on the dangerous, two-hour rescue, bringing all nine survivors to safety.