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Pall of gloom and sadness descends on Port Isaac

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 13, 2013

  • Fisherman's Friends Billy Hawkins, Jon Cleave and Nigel Sherratt walk across the empty harbour at Port Isaac Pictures: Peter Glaser

  • Jon Cleave, flanked by Nigel Sherratt, left, and Billy Hawkins, announces the death of friend and fellow Fisherman's Friends member Trevor Grills

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There was a sombre calm in the village of Port Isaac. Barely a breath of wind swayed the flag of the lifeboat station overlooking the Platt where the Fisherman's Friends would entertain the crowds.

And on a coast often battered by the worst that nature can muster, only gentle waves yesterday rolled against the harbour wall at low tide.

Among the few families with their buckets and spades, sightseers clutching pasties, an artist at work and those on their way to Doc Martin's house, the television series for which the village has latterly become famous, three figures slowly walked across the beach.

Minutes earlier, those three men – Jon Cleave, Billy Hawkins and Nigel Sherratt – had struggled to contain their emotions in front of the media as they paid tribute to Trevor Grills.

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"This is an announcement that we really wish we didn't have to make," a softly spoken Mr Cleave said. "It is with great sorrow that we have to tell you that Trevor Grills – husband of Leslie and dad to Paul, Mark and Josh, lifetime friend and Fisherman's Friend – died of his injuries last night in St George's Hospital, Tooting.

"Our deepest love and thoughts are with Trevor's family and we would like to sincerely thank everyone for your messages of love and support.

"We know that Trevor, who was a proud yet modest Cornishman, would be quite overwhelmed by it all."

There was a palpable sense too that the community at large had been overwhelmed by news of the accident at the weekend, which also claimed the life of promoter Paul McMullen.

Amid the blissfully unaware tourists, villagers paused with one another and quietly talked in the street and seemed to spend a little longer in the shops, cementing friendships in the midst of tragedy.

While "close-knit community" is an over-worn phrase in such circumstances its suits Port Isaac down to the ground. And the ten-strong Fisherman's Friends are part of the fabric of its society. "There is just a pall of gloom and sadness over the village," the Reverend Canon Judith Pollinger said. "Wherever you go there are little knots and groups of people who are very subdued talking about the tragedy.

"But it has spread very much wider than that because so many people hold them in such affection. Trevor himself was such a delightful person. He had a lovely sense of humour and a beautiful voice which touched the heart strings."

"One of the great things about this village is that it is close-knit and everyone really feels the sadness," Canon Pollinger added.

"But at the same time it is also a great strength, with the help and support that everyone can come together to give."

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