I don’t know whether it was due to the fact that my father’s young
sister’s name was Grace that he loved telling me the story of Grace Darling. I remembered the story today, as I thought of the many people who tell me very vehemently that no one individual can make things change in this world.
I disagree with them totally, and for them will I narrate my dad’s favorite story. Years ago, one cold winter evening, a storm bore down upon a little fishing village, somewhere off the west coast of England. The wind and the rain came down with an unmatched fury. All the villagers from the fishing village braved the storm and came on to the shore and breathed a sigh of relief as slowly boat after filled with their loved ones, returned home, till each and everyone was safe. They looked at each other with relief and happiness.
Suddenly, through the sounds of the howling wind, the villagers heard the eerie sound of men crying for help. They peered through the rain and the waves and in the distance, they saw a ship that was wrecked after being grounded and smashed by rocks.
The men from the sailing ship were crying out in terror and anguish as they faced imminent death. The fishing folk in the little village looked at the stranded sailors and shook their heads sadly. They knew it was impossible to venture out to sea again. Their hearts went out to the poor sailors, but again they shook their heads in helplessness.
But one young girl in their midst who heard the cries and felt the terror of the stranded men looked at the others and something stirred within her. “Help them,” she shouted running from one villager to another. “They will die if we don’t help them.” Nobody moved, not her father, nor her brothers nor any of the men who she knew so well.
“Grace,” they told her, “there’s nothing we can do.” But Grace on seeing the resolute faces, jumped into one of the small boats and before the men folk could stop her, rowed into the storm towards the shipwreck. The villagers watched in horror as the boat tossed from side to side, and as a small, frail but determined girl guided it to the deathly spot.
Her brother cried, her mother wept, her father cursed, till they saw the little craft reach the wretched men. The men, stranded and lost, jumped into the little boat. She could take only a few, but when she looked round, she saw all the boats on the shore make their way, to pick up the rest of them.
All the men were rescued, and Grace became a heroine that night and is remembered to this day. A lovely story and so well can I hear my father’s voice as he continued after the tale and looking into my wide little boy eyes would say, “Bob, the truth, we need to know, is that even one person can make things happen. Also Bob when this one person starts making things happen others who have held back will follow. But that one person has to lead.” We need more Grace Darling’s today than ever before..!