West Lulworth

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News - 2007

Daily Mail - 10 September 2007

Girl, 13, bids to keep fishing in the family's 310 year seafaring history

By Andy Dolan

For more than 300 years, generation after generation of the Miller family have earned their living on the ocean waves.

But when fisherman Joe Miller's only son Levi decided to turn his back on a career on the seas, it seemed like the family tradition was set to die out.

A life on the ocean waves: Becci Miller, 13

That was, until Levi's sister Becci, 13, announced she wanted to become the first female in the family to take on the job in their 310 years in the fishing business.

Becci's male relatives have been fishing off the Dorset coast since her ancestor Henry Miller first set sail in a small boat in the 1690s.

In all, nine generations of Millers have taken to the sea, including Becci's grandfather, Jim, 82, and great-grandfather Charles, who became the first Miller to benefit from a motor engine on his boat.

The teenager has been hooked on fishing for years and first went fishing with her father, 47, when she was still a baby.

She already helps him for a couple of hours after school each day, and plans to become a full-time fisherman at 18 after finishing her education.

Becci said: "I am usually out for about two hours and I love every minute. "I have been going fishing with my dad since I was a baby - he used to sit me on the floor before I could walk.

"I just love being out at sea and want to be a fisherman.

"If I don't take it up full time then the tradition might stop and unless our children want to fish, it may not start again."

History: Becci's great-great-great-great grandfather Henry with his wife Jane

Becci lives with her father Joe, mother Christine, 38, Levi and sister Sophie, 16, in the fishing village of Lulworth Cove, Dorset.

Ancestor Henry Miller started up a small fishing business in the neighbouring village of Tyneham in 1678.

He handed it on to his son John in the 18th century and after him was son, also called John.

His son Henry took over the trade at the turn of the 19th century and the tradition continued to be passed down from father to son through Joseph, Edwin and Charles - Becci's great grandfather.

Charles was the first Miller to go to sea in a motor-powered boat after he installed an old Ford car engine on it in the late 1920s.

Jim succeeded him and Joe Miller, Becci's father, became a fisherman 32 years ago. He now spends his days on his father's original boat, Silver Foam.

At 5.30am he begins laying crab and lobster pots on the seabed and in the afternoon he uses large nets to catch mackerel, tuna and a variety of flat fish.

... and her great-great grandfather Edwin

Becci said her brother occasionally helps out on the boat, but "usually moans about it" and wants to be a footballer when he grows up, while her older sister wants to be an equine physiotherapist.

When Henry Miller started out, he sold fish direct to local villagers from the beach. But over the decades, as the business grew, the Millers started selling most of their catch to fish merchants.

For the last four years, the family have sold their fish from their own shop in Lulworth Cove, which is run by Mrs Miller

On the wall is a family tree showing all the Millers who have worked for the business down the years.

Becci added: "I think it would be a shame for the tree to stop at my dad.

"I don't mind being the first fisherwoman in the family, it doesn't bother me at all.

"Apparently my auntie would have liked to have done it but my grandpa wouldn't let her."

Keeping it in the family: Becci with dad Joe

Her father said he is proud the teenager wants to keep the family tradition alive in a struggling industry hit hard by quotas, fishing restrictions and declining fish stocks.

In the 1950s, around 50,000 people were employed in Britain's fishing industry. Today there are around 15,000.

Mr Miller said: "It is important for her to do the trade as the family tradition could stop if her siblings don't take it up.

"Being a woman doesn't seem to hold her back - she does just a good job as any of us."

The Independent - Monday 13 August 2007

'Tombstoning' man rescued as jump goes wrong

By Martin Hodgson

Holidaymakers using an inflatable dinghy rescued a man who was seriously injured after "tombstoning" more than 100ft into the sea from one of Britain's most famous coastal landmarks.

Hundreds of people watched from the beach near Lulworth Cove in Dorset as the 26-year old man floundered in the water after leaping from the top of Durdle Door, a natural limestone arch that juts 400ft into the sea.

Stunned by the force of impact and suffering severe internal injuries, the man floated helplessly until a group of holidaymakers swam out and dragged him on to an inflatable dinghy, said the Portland Coastguard watch manager, Ros Evans. "Members of the public managed to get the injured man on to an inflatable and drag it out of the water keeping him lying down flat and, fortunately, there was a doctor on the beach who was able to attend immediately," she said.

Kevin Burt, the station officer of the Lulworth Coastguard Rescue Team said that the man, who has not been named, was lucky to have survived the drop on Saturday. Although the tide was on its way in, the seabed around Durdle Door is uneven, with many shallows and underwater rocks, he said.

"From the top of the Door it is a fall of at least 100ft. Even if the tide is in, when you hit water from that kind of height it's like hitting concrete. You can be very seriously injured. [The victim] had inhaled a lot of seawater and he would have drowned if he hadn't been fished out by people on the beach," he said.

Once the man's condition had stabilised he was transferred to an inshore lifeboat and taken out to open water where he was winched on to a coastguard helicopter. He was airlifted to Dorset General Hospital in Dorchester, where his condition was described as stable.

Portland Coastguard said the man was believed to have been with a group of friends who left the scene after the accident.

Ms Evans said: "This behaviour is plain stupid. Young men are dying pointlessly and getting seriously injured every summer in a bid to impress their friends. This young man jumped from the top of the precarious cliff arch of Durdle Door from a height of at least 20 metres, so an injury was almost inevitable."

The incident comes amid a spate of deaths and injuries caused by the craze for "tombstoning" in which thrill-seekers jump into water from cliffs or buildings. On Friday night, a teenage boy died after jumping off a bridge in Scotland. Sean McSkimmings, 17, was among a group of young people who leapt off Balloch Bridge on the river Leven in Dunbartonshire. Sean, who could not swim, failed to resurface, and his body was later recovered by police divers.

The craze had already claimed three lives this summer, in separate accidents at Minehead in Somerset, Clacton-on-Sea in Essex and Torbay in Devon.

Fans of tombstoning refer to it as an "extreme sport" and post lists of their favourite jump sites on internet forums but coastguards and police are concerned by the increasing popularity of the phenomenon. In some parts of the country, emergency services deal with an average of one cliff-jumping rescue a week during the summer.

Safety experts point out that holidaymakers - their judgement often clouded by alcohol - may be unaware of the risks in jumping blindly into unknown waters.

Even the most placid surface can conceal rocks, riptides and other dangers, said Roger Vincent, a spokesman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

Just one metre under the surface, British coastal waters are barely one degree above freezing, even on the hottest summer day. Sudden immersion in the chilly water can paralyse the limbs of even the strongest swimmer, he said.

"People have always jumped off rocks into the sea, and always will do. We can't ban this or do anything stop people jumping, but they need to understand the risk of what they are doing.

"The sea is a dynamic environment and conditions are changing all the time - a place that may have seemed safe one day can be fatal the next," he said.


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