Sometimes, a chance phone-call leads to unexpected and wonderful things – this was the case earlier this year when Caroline Sleeman contacted us with an idea… which has now been filmed by the BBC!
Link to BBC coverage https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-england-devon-57172904 .
Caroline says, “The inspiration came whilst out on one of my Lockdown walks walking along Babbacombe Downs and the coastal path. I kept seeing the amazing cruise ships ‘parked up’ in Torbay and thought it would be great to create a collection of pictures from the shore and send them to the crews as a memento of their historical stay here. They’ve provided so much pleasure and interest to a lot of people and the crews have done a lot for the local community. I started a Facebook page called Cruise Ships in Lyme Bay and Torbay and now have over 200 followers – I contacted people asking if they would give permission to use their photos and many very kindly agreed.
I made enquiries about getting the printing done but hit a brick wall until I contacted the directors of Eat That Frog CIC to ask if they might be able to help. Bingo, they put me in touch with Mitch Searle, one of their digital skills tutors. Mitch suggested we create a photo book and a 2022 calendar which we could sell to raise funds for the RNLI. Local people sent their photos into Mitch, and his photography student Seph also took some photos as part of his studies. We then met to choose which photos to use, which was a difficult task as they were all amazing, and Mitch and Seph have helped me produce an attractive photobook and calendar.”
Semi-retired Caroline, who lives in Torquay with her husband, worked for many years at South Devon College co-ordinating teaching provision for people with additional needs, and still works part time as part of the house-keeping team at The Lorrens Ladies Health Spa. In her spare time, she crochets NHS hero Teddy Bears, as her son and granddaughter both work for the NHS.
Caroline’s vision of thanking the cruise ship crews has also been fulfilled – due to Coronavirus restrictions, they couldn’t meet face to face, but Torquay’s Harbour Master stepped in to help. Caroline packaged up books for the Oosterdamn, Arcadia, Marella Explorer and Queen Mary 2, and they were delivered out to the ships. Their delighted crew members sent messages and photos back to shore to say how touched they were with the photo mementoes of their historic stay in Torbay.
Mitch says, “This has been such an exciting and worthwhile project to work on with our learners, celebrating the cruise ships which are such a feature of the area, and hopefully raising money for the RNLI, who save lives every year along our coastline. It’s a pleasure to feature photos from talented local photographers, including our own young learner Seph, Andrew Sassoli-Walker, Jem Spicer, Ocean Blue Art Studio, Rock Solid Coasteering and Simon Smith.”
The books and calendars are for sale at Eat That Frog (order online here) and the Torbay Weekly newspaper office, and have already raised nearly £1000 to donate to the RNLI. Caroline is also happy to deliver books and calendars locally to people if they would like to get in touch with her via the Cruise Ships in Lyme Bay and Torbay Facebook page. Local shops are also welcome to get in touch with her if they’d like to stock the books and calendars for sale.