A few weeks ago Val Holmes and I had the great pleasure of chatting to Ernie Bilocca, Lillian Bilocca’s son, when he came to PAD STUDIOS for a coffee. What a thoroughly nice man he is!

Val had had earlier in-depth chats with Ernie, when she was researching the play way back in 2013 and was encouraged by his willingness to offer his thoughts on those times. Val also had kept in touch with developments on the play over the time of its development and on the LIL DRAMA COMPANY’s inception. Which Ernie felt was a lovely tribute to his Mam.

He told us of a recent visit he undertook to St. Mary Queen of Martyrs Primary School to talk about Lil and the campaign, although he was a little apprehensive at first, he really enjoyed the enthusiasm and interest from the children about Lil’s story. Apparently the children have produced some headscarf designs in their art project on Lil, which Val and I hope to go and see.

What struck me was even though Ernie was on the Kingston Almandine at the time and heard over their airwaves the tragic last message from the Ross Cleveland, the last trawler to go down, Ernie and his father Charlie, who was a merchant seamen, didn’t see first hand the women’s efforts as they unfolded over that very short period. They saw the immediate aftermath, when his mother undertook some dates to speak at Universities, the ongoing media spotlight, and then the times she faced losing her job and just battling on with life.

Having talked at some length about family life, including the time when he came home from the pub a little worse for wear at 17 and saw his Mam coming towards him to show her disapproval and him putting the settee in between them thinking it would protect him, it didn’t! He readily accepted that she was good at keeping strong discipline in the home and how she was “..just his Mam!” Like any of the other strong women of the fishing community on Hessle road, who were both mother and father for long periods while the men were away from their families.

It was great to hear these personal, first hand reflections and supports our ongoing desire to help develop further plays within the LIL DRAMA COMPANY by promoting our “SAVE OUR STORIES” campaign. (Below: Using the morse code for S.O.S below with the LIL logo – a fitting tribute to the campaign to get radio operators on board all the trawlers).

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