The RNLI saves lives at sea.

Calverley Carruthers-Watt

Also known as: Cal.

Picture of Calverley Carruthers-Watt.

Cal was not an easy man to pigeonhole. He recently had to describe himself for a board he was involved with and with characteristic modesty he described himself as interested in the things that happened around him.
He was a man of incredible intellect – well read on subjects as diverse as military history, management, flower paintings, psychology and of course the sea.
He was not in any way a religious man, but he was incredibly principled. He had a very clear idea of right and wrong and believed in the ability of people to make a difference. He believed that reason and logic are the primary sources of knowledge and truth and that they should be relied on in both searching for and testing the truth of things. He had a great sense of humour and enjoyed challenging conventions whenever he had the opportunity.

Cal was born in Horncastle in Lincolnshire in 1934, He was the eldest of three boys and during the Second World War, his father bought and converted a former lifeboat which the family lived on for some years, and it was here that the family were grateful of an RNLI rescue. This was where his love of the sea began and took him into the Merchant Navy as a 16 year old apprentice.
He thoroughly enjoyed his time in the Merchant Navy and travelled all over the world, he used to joke that he’d been round the edges of most countries! On one occasion, landing in Gibralter, he and some mates realised that the Admiral’s flag had not been struck. Naturally they climbed the flag pole and nicked it… During the Korean war he served on tankers supporting the regular forces and Navy.
Cal lived in London for the first part of his marriage and, not surprisingly, given his later role as a trade union organiser spent some time as a local Councillor – more surprisingly he was a Conservative Councillor on Islington Council at the same time as Norman Tebbit!
In the late 70’s he and his wife decided to embrace the Good Life and moved with their two daughters to a semi derelict cottage with no mains water or drainage, electricity or road to speak of where they kept chickens, ducks and geese and grew their own vegetables.
Cal decided to retrain as a lecturer and in 1984 he moved to Hartlepool and became a lecturer at the college. He discovered a real talent for nurturing young people and was someone who liked the opportunity to raise peoples expectations and to open doors to new possibilities. He was a committed trade unionist and passionate labour party supporter. He began a long correspondence with a young local MP from nearby Stockton, who he correctly predicted would become Prime Minister. He was a local and regional official for NATFE and was involved in conferences and actively involved in a number of trade disputes. He loved living overlooking the sea and never tired of the sight and sound of it. After he retired, he and Phil spent lots of time visiting galleries, walking and taking trips together. He also rekindled his love of travel, visiting China and being a crew member on a three masted sailing ship in the Mediterranean. He became interested in the voluntary sector and particularly involved with the development of better services for older people.
He’s been described by lots of people as a real Gentleman and I think that that would have pleased as well as amused him. In later life he was also the voice of reason, calmly injecting a note of common sense into the most heated of debates – this wasn’t always the case. He had a fiery temper when younger and would argue black was white for the sheer pleasure of the argument. On one occasion he struck fear and terror into a courting couple parked in his field by emerging from the field naked from the waist up with bristling hair and (then) red beard, whirling a 14 pound sledgehammer round his head, looking for all the world like a small Viking and yelling “Get off my bloody land”
He was very proud of his family and in turn we always used him as a real sounding board. His opinion was always considered and often surprising. He was quite happy to tell you that he thought you were making a mistake but more often he was giving encouragement. As a liberal and tolerant parent he was happy to discuss and encourage all but the most hair brained of scheme. He enjoyed family events and in 2006, during a family trip to Normandy, we went and worked out where his father had landed as part of the D Day force. He was very pleased to be able to show his grandchildren where this had happened. He was quite shy, but had a talent for choosing and acting out the most bizarre titles whilst playing charades and his rendition of “The Wee Jimmy Shand Show” or “Captain Brassbound’s Conversion” can still reduce the people who saw it to hysterical giggles.

Added by: Miranda Vercoe on 8 March 2008.

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