Watch as Morecambe musician Pete Moser tells how town will be honouring cockling tragedy victims

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
The founder of More Music in Morecambe has been talking about their event being held at the weekend to mark the 20th anniversary of the cockling disaster and how the Chinese cocklers will be remembered.

Pete Moser is a composer, performer, teacher and producer and was the artistic director of More Music in Morecambe for 25 years until he retired.

Pete said: “Sigh of the Sea is an event on February 4 on the West End beach close to the Battery and we are doing two parts, one that’s outside when we’re going to be on the beach with a bonfire, lanterns, a bonfire in the shape of a boat, braziers, a cup of tea and some music and we’ll be asking people to write on the lanterns to send wishes out to sea as the tide comes in, it won’t quite reach the bonfire but we’ll have that sense of fire and water.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"And then after that we’re going into More Music's building, for a couple of hours of music and food and chat and conversations where we can reflect on the lives of those 23 people.

Pete Moser previously of More Music in Morecambe, who have organised an event for the 20 year cockling anniversary. Photo: Kelvin Lister-Stuttard.Pete Moser previously of More Music in Morecambe, who have organised an event for the 20 year cockling anniversary. Photo: Kelvin Lister-Stuttard.
Pete Moser previously of More Music in Morecambe, who have organised an event for the 20 year cockling anniversary. Photo: Kelvin Lister-Stuttard.

"Ten years ago we marked it on the main beach in Morecambe, we had quite a big event, we had a lot of people. This is 20 years on it’s really important to think about the issues again and to think about those people.

"Ten years from now, I’d like to think that it's something that will carry on going. When you have a tragedy like this that highlights issues of slavery, of economic migration of people travelling around the world, it’s really important to mark those and to think about why it happens and to try and say ‘this should not be happening’ or how we can make sure it doesn’t happen again.

"Those cocklers were out, being taken out by a gangmaster who really didn’t know what he was doing and just the thought of the terror of those people as the tide was coming in, the sand was sucking them down, was just horrendous.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"But we also knew that something like this could have happened because for months before that there had been hundreds of cocklers out there digging out in the sand, some of them going really far out in the bay, and who knows what they knew, who was guiding them, who was actually telling them to go there and so it was a terrible, it was a horrendous night, and it took the town by surprise really, I mean we knew that this was happening, we knew that people were living here, and had come up from Liverpool and all over the country to live here and to work in the bay but we didn’t know that this was going to happen.

"It marked Morecambe for many years and still is a place where a huge industrial tragedy had taken place.

"It’s important to honour the memory of those people who died in Morecambe Bay. It’s important to remember them and to not forget their lives, to think about how we can change the society we live in so that this doesn’t happen again.

"To always remember and build bridges between people from other cultures and I think by doing this event we’ll bring people together from many different places, some of the young people who come weren’t alive 20 years ago.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"But we’ll ask them to think about that event and to think about those people, to think about their families, and to remember them with sadness but also with some sort of celebration of their lives.”

Sigh of the Sea takes place on West End beach this Sunday, February 4 from 4.30pm-6pm followed by an event with music and food at More Music at 6.30pm.

There will also be two memorial services on Monday, February 5.

The first service will be on the shore by Archers cafe at Red Bank Farm in Bolton-le-Sands at 11am led by Revd Susan Seed of Slyne with Hest parish and her colleague Revd Peter Hamborg, vicar at Bolton-le-Sands.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A candlelight vigil and memorial service will start at 6pm at the memorial dedicated to the Chinese cocklers close to RNLI Lifeboat Station on Morecambe Promenade.

The service at the Cocklers’ Memorial next to the RNLI station (LA4 5BY) will be led by the Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Rev. Philip North, and the Rector of Morecambe Parish Church, Rev. Chris Krawiec.

Also in attendance on Monday evening will be Mr Kim Leong, Chairman of Lancaster and Morecambe Bay Chinese Community Association; The Right Worshipful, the Mayor of Lancaster, Councillor Roger Dennison, alongside representatives of the RNLI; the Police, Fire and Ambulance Services and other civic dignitaries.

Monday’s service will include a reading, by Mr Kim Leong, of the names of all those who were lost 20 years ago.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A silent vigil will be held, and those present will also be invited to join in hymns and prayers, and will be offered a cockle shell to take away as a permanent reminder of the ongoing fight against modern slavery and of those who died that day.

The Mayor of Lancaster, Councillor Roger Dennison is inviting members of the public wanting to pay their respects to bring along candles and lanterns and said: “Our thoughts at this sad time are with the families of those who died in this terrible incident 20 years ago and also all others who have lost their lives over the years in Morecambe Bay. The tragedy was a stark reminder of the dangers posed by its treacherous tides.

"It's also a time to thank all those who bravely put their own lives at risk in the rescue operation, particularly the unpaid volunteers of the RNLI."

Related topics: