FAMILY members of the late Sir Walter Smiles, who was a Member of Parliament at Westminster in 1945, plan to attend the MV Princess Victoria Memorial service to remember him.
Sir Walter Smiles was one of 135 people who perished in the MV Princess Victoria ferry disaster in 1953.
Lady Sarah Grylls (Sally), who is mother of Bear Grylls, Lara Fawcett, Bear’s sister, and his cousin, Bevan Fawcett, will attend the service at Chaine Memorial Road on Friday 31 January, 67 years after the tragedy.
The family, who lived in Donaghadee until 1980, said they were ‘honoured and privileged’ to be invited to the service.
The visit gives the family a chance to remember Sir Walter Smiles together with Lady Grylls’ mother, Patricia Ford (Lady Fisher), who succeeded her father as the first woman MP in Northern Ireland. Mrs Ford passed away in 1995.
She was the founder of the Women Caring Trust which helped young people from disadvantaged areas in Northern Ireland.
Lady Grylls and members of her family scattered her ashes at sea, over the exact spot where the wreck of the Princess Victoria now lies.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Maureen Morrow, said: “I would like to take this opportunity to welcome some members of the Grylls family to the borough, albeit for a very poignant occasion.
“The Princess Victoria disaster affected people both in Larne and further afield.
“It was an incredibly difficult time for the area and generation’s later people are still affected from the tragedy.
“I am glad the Grylls family could come to Larne to share their memories of their grand-father and great-grandfather.”
The Princess Victoria monument on Chaine Memorial Road, Larne
Lady Grylls, said: “I was only 11 years of age when this tragedy happened but I can remember it as if it were yesterday.
“It is a great privilege for me and my daughter and grandson to be invited to Larne to lay a wreath to commemorate the tragic loss of so many lives 67 years ago.
“This visit is an opportunity to remember my grandfather, who I adored, and also my mother who was a wonderful lady.”
The memorial service will take place at 11am on Friday 31 January.