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CCS volunteer sets sail with Dunkirk Little Ships

Thamesa (formerly the Minnihaha)

Thamesa (formerly the Minnihaha)

Catholic Children’s Society (Westminster) volunteer Liz Tough is away from the office this week – because she is taking part in a re-enactment of Operation Dynamo,  commemorating the 70th anniversary of the evacuation of 338,000 British and Allied troops from Dunkirk in 1940.

Liz’s husband John is Commodore of the Association of Dunkirk Little  Ships. This Thursday they will be  setting sail from Ramsgate in their  1936-built boat Thamesa, as part of a 54-strong  convoy of veteran boats, accompanied by a Royal Navy air and sea escort.  All week there will be ceremonies a exhibitions in Ramsgate before they begin the sea crossing, including a Service for Little Ships at the Sailors Church and a blessing  by the Senior Chaplain of Mission to Seafarers.

The boats will receive a huge welcome in Dunkirk after their 11-hour voyage. On Saturday a Service of Commemoration will be held at the Allied Memorial on the beach.

Liz said: “The Dunkirk evacuation was one of the most inspiring examples of creative problem solving. The port of Dunkirk had been destroyed and thousands of troops were stranded there on the beaches.” 

In 1940, Liz's husband’s grandfather Douglas, was running a boatyard in Teddington.  He was asked to recruit as many small boats from around the country as he could,  to attempt a rescue of the stranded men. “They were hoping to rescue 60,000, but in the end they managed to bring home 380,000. It was incredible that they managed to co-ordinate the operation, with many volunteers who had no experience of small boats”  she said.

“They also had nine days of perfect weather. Churchhill described it as a ‘miracle of deliverance’.”

Liz Tough is a volunteer at St Vincent’s Family Centre in Ealing. This project provides family mediation and psychotherapy to help families who are undergoing relationship difficulties.

Her aunt, Marie Turner, who worked for the Catholic Children's Society for 30 years, died in December. A memorial service will be held for her in Westminster Cathedral later this month.

For more information see:

Catholic Children's Society  - www.cathchild.org.uk/

Association of Dunkirk Little  Ships www.adls.org.uk/t1/