Bear Grylls’ relatives to attend MV Princess Victoria ferry disaster memorial service

Lady Grylls' mother, Patricia Ford (Lady Fisher), pictured at her home, Portavo Point, which her father Sir Walter Smiles built.
Lady Grylls' mother, Patricia Ford (Lady Fisher), pictured at her home, Portavo Point, which her father Sir Walter Smiles built.

Family members of Bear Grylls are to attend this year’s MV Princess Victoria ferry disaster memorial service in Larne.

Lady Sarah Grylls (Sally), who is mother of Bear Grylls, Lara Fawcett, Bear’s sister, and his cousin, Bevan Fawcett, will attend the service at Chaine Memorial Road on January 31, 67 years after the tragedy.

The relatvies of the late Sir Walter Smiles, who was a Member of Parliament at Westminster in 1945, plan to attend the service to remember him.

Sir Walter Smiles was one of 135 people who perished in the MV Princess Victoria ferry disaster in 1953. The family, who lived in Donaghadee until 1980, said they were ‘honoured and privileged’ to be invited to the service.

The visit gives them a chance to remember Sir Walter Smiles together with Lady Grylls’ mother, Patricia Ford (Lady Fisher), who succeeded her father as the first woman MP in Northern Ireland. Mrs Ford passed away in 1995. She was the founder of the Women Caring Trust which helped young people from disadvantaged areas in Northern Ireland.

Lady Grylls and members of her family scattered her ashes at sea, over the exact spot where the wreck of the Princess Victoria now lies.

Lady Grylls, said: “I was only 11 years of age when this tragedy happened but I can remember it as if it were yesterday. It is a great privilege for me and my daughter and grandson to be invited to Larne to lay a wreath to commemorate the tragic loss of so many lives 67 years ago. This visit is an opportunity to remember my grandfather, who I adored, and also my mother who was a wonderful lady.”

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr Maureen Morrow, said: “I would like to take this opportunity to welcome some members of the Grylls family to the borough, albeit for a very poignant occasion. The Princess Victoria disaster effected people both in Larne and further afield.”

The service will commence at 11am.