Cairncastle parishioner shares Titanic memories

Wednesday December 14th 2011

Bob Buckley, treasurer of St Patrick's with All Saints, Eleanor Thompson and the Rev Chris Bennett.The Titanic memories of a parishioner of St Patrick’s, Cairncastle, were brought to life recently on BBC Radio Ulster’s Thought for the Day.

The Rev Chris Bennett, Chaplain to the Titanic Quarter and a former curate in St Cedma’s, Larne, told the story of Larne lady Eleanor Thompson, whose father Ambrose Willis helped design the Titanic.

Chris had previously interviewed 95–year–old Eleanor, a member of St Patrick’s, Cairncastle, for a short film which he presented at the Dock Church’s second birthday event in Belfast.

Chris has been developing a vision for the Dock Church – a focal point for ministry and mission to the residents, businesses, tourists and visitors to in this exciting new part of Belfast. The planned centre will be a boat with a cafe and community hub, floating in the Abercorn Basin just behind the Odyssey Arena.

Eleanor's father Ambrose Willis worked on the Titanic - before it set sail.With the centenary of Titanic’s sinking in April 2012, Chris has been exploring the many local stories connected to the iconic liner.

Eleanor’s father was one of five chief design draughtsmen at the Harland & Wolff Shipyard heading up a large team that created much of the interior decoration of the ship. He also took part in the sea–trials and sailed on her first voyage from Belfast to Southampton. He disembarked to return to Belfast, but his team went on and were all lost in the fateful crossing to New York.

Meeting up with Eleanor again recently, Chris was presented with a cheque for £250 by Bob Buckley, treasurer of St Patrick’s with All Saints. This represented a special Mission Sunday collection at the two churches when the congregations learned of exciting new developments in the Dock Church project.

The interview with Eleanor can also be viewed online by visiting http://www.thedockchurch.organd clicking on Chris’s blog for December 7.


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