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News > Memories at Hymers > The Hull Vigil

The Hull Vigil

Peter Robinson, OH 1963-69, spoke about his memories of Hymers and his Vigil Blog

I was fortunate to be born in 1952 and very fortunate indeed to have attended Hymers from 1963 to 1969. I grew up down Wymersley Road and most days I used to ride the 2.5 miles to School on my push bike. If it was raining I'd get the number 11 bus.

My time at Hymers was filled with fond memories. I was saddened to read that our deeply loved Chemistry Master, Mr Alex Sutton passed away at the age of 80 a couple of years ago.

The head of Music, Mr Watson stimulated my further interest and I ended up playing Double Bass in the school Orchestra. A lovely instrument, but second only to a grand piano or cathedral organ for difficulty in carting around on a bus. The space under the stairs was never quite tall enough to accommodate it.

My brother, John started at Hymers in 1956 (he left in 1963) and excelled at Rugby Football. He still lives in Hull and enjoyed his time there too.

From 1969 (at the age of seventeen) to 1974 I read Medicine at the University of Manchester. I have been a registered doctor for over 48 years and I have been an NHS GP for 44 years, based near Preston, Lancashire. It has been hard work but highly enjoyable. So far as I am aware my last ever day at work was 5 May 2023.  The "retirement paperwork" is slow to come through, so, until then, what with having to have PERMISSION to retire, I'm still at work. It's like a friendly type of house arrest!

I often wonder what would happen if, at my age (71), someone keeled over at work without their retirement papers having come through. My guess is that NHS bosses would exhume the person and put them up in front of a Justice Of The Peace for breaking the rules. That's enough about me...

The Hull Vigil was a brilliant spinoff from the Hull Freedom Festival. It ran from May 2021 to May 2022.  Members of the public were invited to book either a sunrise session or a sunset session. There were two sessions per day making 730 in total.  The participant was asked to surrender their mobile phone (mine was a Saturday afternoon session in January 2022, so I couldn't even keep up with the football scores) and stand or sit in a specially imported viewing gallery on the roof of Hull College Campus overlooking Queen's Gardens.

The idea was to look out over the City and think your own thoughts. You were then invited to write something for the blog. It was an enjoyable and moving and thought-provoking experience.

I have to say that some blogs were, shall we say, unimaginative in the extreme. The Bishop of Hull preceded me by a few days, and maybe she was a bit short of time.

One or two of the entries were along the lines of (wait for it...)

I looked down and saw a Nissan Micra driving alongside Queen's Gardens. There was an elderly librarian behind the wheel. She was doing 22 mph. They always go at that speed for some reason. I'm missing out on drinking time, which was a shame (sic)

Purely for comparison purposes I wrote the following blog, scribbled on a piece of lined A4 paper immediately afterward, without notes:


    Eternal Father, strong to save
    As I watched out o'er Humber's wave
    Who made the mighty ocean deep
    Its own appointed limits keep
    O hear us when we cry to thee
    For those in peril on the sea

    In Fifty-Two, One Thursday Morn
    Another Child of Hull was born
    You raised me, fed me, taught me School
    O Latin verbs and Golden Rule
    My Granny once served Tom Courten'y
    Have I been good enough for thee?

    O Trinity of love and power
    Where were you in danger's hour?
    In sixty-eight and seventy-four
    We lost three ships and then one more
    One man survived, so achingly
    Have I been good enough for thee?

    And so after three score and ten
    I'm knocking on Hull's door again
    O'er Whitefr'gate, Robinson Row
    Swirling in the mist below
    O Gaul O Hull O God tell me
    Have I been good enough for Thee?

Footnotes concerning these 24 lines of poetry:

1 Two song titles are hidden in the poem. In the Ghetto (Elvis, 1969) (on a cold and grey Chicago morn another little baby boy was born) and Three Score and Ten,(written by a Whitby fisherman in 1889, about fishing boats going down with the loss of life)

2 My granny had a laundrette on the corner of Devon Street on Hessle Road for many years. There is no absolute proof that she EVER served Sir Tom Courtenay (born 1937 down Hessle Road) even though he lived nearby. Hopefully, Sir Tom won't mind the brief mention. It fits well with the poetic structure, however!

3 In the Triple Trawler Tragedy of 1968 some 58 men perished when, in separate incidents, the St Romanus, the Kingston Peridot, and the Ross Cleveland all sunk in severe storms near Iceland, within a week of each other

4 On 6th February 1968 Mr Harry Eddom (born in 1941) who had been on the Ross Cleveland washed up on the shore in a very remote part of Iceland, close to death. He was taken in by crofters and survived. In some circles, he was criticised for having survived when the rest of the crew perished, which is sad. So far as I am aware he still lives in Hull

5 Early in 1974 the FV Gaul was lost in northern waters, and all 36 crew perished. This was later described as the "worst ever single trawler tragedy"

6 The "main" group of people for whom I wrote the Vigil For The Ninety Four were the Hessle Road fishing community

7 I also wrote it for anyone (and, believe me, there are lots of them) who have had a loved one (usually on dry land) leave for work in a morning and never ever come home again

8 I also (have I been good enough for Thee?) asked the question: Does a person who grows up in a community have a subsequent "debt" to the community at large that helped to raise them (YES!) and has that person lived a fairly decent life, where the good things that they have done outweigh the bad things that they have done by at least a margin of 70 / 30 (I hope so!!)

9 I abbreviated Whitefriagate from its quadrisyllabic name down to three syllables. This was always the local pronunciation. Also, four syllables would not fit with the poetic meter

10 Could William Shakespeare himself have inserted so much stuff into 24 lines, with even a local geography lesson thrown in for free? Answer: No, he probably couldn't. However, in mitigation, he didn't have an Apple MacBook Air to write on; it is harder with a quill pen!

The Hull Vigil - Peter Robinson's Blog

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