Wales

Schoolgirl's bid to honour Barmouth's Titanic hero

Harold Lowe
Image caption Harold Lowe organised a rescue of four people after the Titanic sank

A schoolgirl has launched a campaign to create a memorial to Titanic hero Harold Lowe in his home town.

Maddie Matthews, 15, of Dyffryn Ardudwy, Gwynedd, was shocked to learn Barmouth has no plaque to mark the sailor's efforts to rescue survivors.

Fifth Officer Lowe, played by Hollywood actor Ioan Gruffudd in the 1997 film, rowed a lifeboat back to pull four people from the freezing water.

Maddie wants the memorial up in time for the tragedy's centenary in 2012.

She is juggling her revision for GCSEs with writing letters to local councils and historical organisations to drum up support.

She said: "He died in 1944 and is buried in Llandrillo-yn-Rhos, but walking through Barmouth, there is nothing visible to commemorate him.

Image caption Hollywood actor Ioan Gruffudd starred as Officer Lowe in the film Titanic

"He is not just a local hero, he is also a national - and indeed, international - hero.

She first learnt about him when watching the blockbuster film about the doomed ship.

She said: "I think the fact he was so brave and stood up against those who told him to carry on and not go back to rescue people means he is really inspirational.

"He is someone this area should be truly proud of, someone that the schools in the area should learn about and someone who should certainly be commemorated around Barmouth, so that everyone can be proud of him."

'Of world interest'

She is planning a fundraising event to muster donations for the memorial at Dyffryn village hall but has also set up a Facebook page - 'We want recognition for Harold Lowe in Barmouth'.

Her efforts have been applauded by the Titanic Heritage Trust, which was set up to protect the history and name of RMS Titanic and those connected to it.

Founder Howard Nelson said: "I think it's great she wants to do this and we will give her all the support we can.

"Now all the survivors of the tragedy have passed away we want to commemorate all those with any connection to the Titanic so that they can always be remembered."

His view was shared by former Barmouth town councillor and six-times mayor, Harry Allday.

He said: "Back in the 80s my wife arranged an information board about Mr Lowe in the Sailors' Institute in Barmouth Harbour but it disappeared. We were really concerned because nothing has ever replaced it.

"In a small town like Barmouth it's important people are reminded who he is. He is of world interest and was one of the only true heroes of the Titanic."

On that fateful night in April 1912, Officer Lowe dispersed the occupants of his lifeboat among the other boats, and rowed back towards the sinking ship, managing to rescue four people still alive in the water.

He also rescued passengers stranded on a sinking inflatable lifeboat, ensuring that everyone alive reached the safety of the Carparthia, a passing ship.

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