Efforts pressing ahead to restore Dunkirk 'little ship' - Hartlepool music group Phoenix Variety Showgroup puts on fundraiser for project

Efforts to restore a Dunkirk ‘little ship’ in Hartlepool are pressing ahead – with a night of nostalgia, dancing and music for all generations organised to help raise funds.

Monday, 12th August 2019, 11:36 am
Updated Monday, 12th August 2019, 4:01 pm
The MV Coronia

The MV Coronia, which rescued over 900 troops from the beaches of Dunkirk in the Second World War, is now berthed at Hartlepool Marina and is being carefully restored.

The town’s Phoenix Variety Showgroup have now given their services for free to help raise money for the project with a special fundraiser.

All proceeds from the night will go towards getting Cornonia ship shape so she can take part in an 80th anniversary reunion of rescue ships in Dunkirk next year.

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The Phoenix Variety Showgroup on the deck of the Coronia. Picture by Ashley Foster

The show, on Friday, August 23, at the Smallcrafts Club, on Commercial Street, will be the third the Phoenix Showgroup have held for the cause and follows a sell-out night last November.

Derrick Rowbotham, of the music group, said: “Many families in Hartlepool would have had relatives on those beaches, me included.

“The boat is starting to look fantastic now but we still need your help in raising these much-needed funds.

“It’s always a great night, full of atmosphere and people all joining in with the fun created by friends of The Coronia.”

Built in 1935, MV Coronia was a pleasure vessel from Yarmouth before war broke out when she was requisitioned by the Admiralty.

In June, 1940, she was part of a flotilla of vessels of all sizes that answered the country’s call to rescue stranded troops at Dunkirk in France for Operation Dynamo.

Coronia carried troops from the beaches to larger ferries and destroyers off shore for the first days of the operation and towards the end she made three more trips across the channel.

She is currently being lovingly restored in Hartlepool by owners Graham Beasley and Pauline Field, together with a number of volunteers, to be ready for next year’s important anniversary.

The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships has organised a commemorative return every five years since 1975.

Visitors and donations are welcome to look at her at Navigation Point.

The Phoenix show starts at 7.30pm and tickets, priced £2.50, are available from The Coronia, The Smallcrafts Club and JPs Bar on Navigation Point.