John Fish B.Sc.Publishers of Tenby in Wales
A TENBY LIFEBOAT FAMILY
Tenby-born author, poet and artist Avis Nixon is the sixth daughter of Tenby Lifeboatman Alfred Cottam, who was the Mechanic of the Tenby Lifeboat from 1933 to 1948. In 1938 Alfred Cottam was awarded the RNLI's Bronze Medal for his part in Tenby Lifeboat's legendary rescue of the crew of the SS Fermanagh.
Avis Nixon also includes an eyewitness account of the Fermanagh rescue by the late John Macarthur who was the ship's mate and, at the booklaunch on 14th June 2000 at Tenby Lifeboat Station, his son Alastair made a surprise appearance. Then in February 2001 Avis Nixon was contacted by John Shanks whose father was also a member of the Fermanagh's crew. Both Alastair Macarthur and John Shanks are deeply aware that without the Tenby Lifeboat then they simply would not have been born. John Macarthur ends his account with words which plumb the ocean's depths and would be familiar, in their meaning, to seamen since time immemorial:
"The sea still keeps its own secret
And the gift of life exacts its own price
Whilst we who are left still mourn"
John Shanks writes: "I have read many times the account of the Fermanagh rescue in A Tenby Lifeboat Family which illustrates so vividly that night in January 1938. I must say it was easy to get emotional when reading the recollections of both the rescued and the rescuer. It must have been horrific and traumatic from everyone's perspective, yet there must have been a degree of tremendous satisfaction and elation that so many were saved. The RNLI at Tenby and the families of the Tenby Lifeboat crew have a right to be proud of their achievements, their courage and their bravery."
Examples of Avis Nixon's poetry can be found in the:
Star of Pembrokeshire Poetry Anthology
Avis Nixon is combining her career as an author with fundraising for the new Tenby Lifeboat and Lifeboat Station. The book-launch took place on Wednesday 14th June 2000 at Tenby Lifeboat Station and was opened by the Mayor of Tenby, below as pictured in the Western Telegraph newspaper:
Towards this end copies can be ordered by mail-order from Tenby RNLI for £12.50 (incl. p&p by worldwide surface mail) with cheques made payable to Tenby RNLI, from: Mr Wyn Griffiths, Senior Launching Authority of the Tenby Lifeboat, Hafod-Y-Coed, Seascape, Tenby, SA70 8JL, Wales, UK (Tel(01834)843546).
Avis Nixon has also self-produced a cassette recording of her work entitled "Tenby Tales and Poetry of Mystery and Imagination" which, likewise, can be ordered from Tenby RNLI for £3.50.
Avis Nixon's fundraising revolves around talks to interested organisations and societies. On Wednesday 27th September 2000, during the Tenby Arts Festival, she performed at the Hope and Anchor public house with local folk musicians Bluestone (who have recorded a CD entitled "The Tenby Lifeboatman" which can be ordered from Tenby RNLI for £5, also available from Tenby RNLI is an illustrated booklet "Tenby Lifeboats by Jeff Morris" about the history of the Tenby Lifeboat from its beginnings in 1852 to 1986 at £1.50).
Avis Nixon is currently researching a new book entitled Tenby Lifeboat in Victorian Times [published March 2006] centered on the life and times of a remarkable Tenby lady of the Victorian era, Mrs Fanny Price Gwynne, and is encouraged and helped in her research by Tenby Museum.
Avis is married to Dennis and lives at Cosheston in Pembrokeshire ... and is officially retired!