|About Stan By Bronwen|
The first time I met Stan was in Aberdovey in 1951. I had been invited to a show at the Outward Bound Sea School and before the BBC Radio show “Have a Go” went on air, Stan entertained us, singing sea shanties. This was the first time I had head shanties as they should be sung.
A few days later he came into the café where I was working as a waitress and surprised me by asking me out for our first ‘date’
For both it was love at first sight. However, my parents were not happy as there was a 25 year difference in our ages, in fact, Stan was older than m father! Three months later he asked me to marry him and despite my father’s continuing disapproval, we eventually married on April 2nd 1953.
Our first home was in Aberdovey, it was a 18th century cottage, no electricity, just gas downstairs and candles in the upper rooms. Our first son, Philip was bourn on January 23rd 1954, and Martin, March 7th 1956. Stan was a good loving husband and father, and very generous, and although we were not very wealthy, the boys did not lack books or musical instruments.
He worked at the Outward Bound Sea School, Aberdovey for 25 years, where he taught seamanship to boys from all over the world. His passion for writing started when he broke his leg and was off work for some months. His first book was “Shanties from the Seven Seas” published in 1961. Altogether he wrote seven books.
He was invited to Folk Clubs all over the United Kingdom and was awarded a gold medal by the English Folk Dance and Song Society. In the 60’s he met Ton Davis of the ‘Spinners’ (Liverpool Folk Group) and his wife Beryl, forming a long and wonderful friendship. Later he was invited to sing at maritime concerts in the USA, France, Brittany, Poland and Holland.
The highlight of his later life was being asked to sing on the numerous occasions of the Tall Ships Races events, on one occasion, in 1976 he had the honour of sailing on the Brig ‘Unicorn’ at the Bicentennial Celebration in the USA, saluting President Ford as they sailed past.
After several years of travel I was also invited to accompany him, this opened up a new life for me and a wonderful shared experience until his death in May 1992.
His funeral in Shrewsbury was attended by a very large gathering and Shay Black of ‘Stormalong John’ sang “Fiddlers Green”, which Stan had requested earlier. I don’t think that there was a dry eye anywhere. A very moving memorial service was held in Liverpool, where the Tall Ships were gathered in Burkenhead and later in Aberdovey, a memorial plaque was unveiled at the live at the Lifeboat Station by Tony Davis. The plaque over looks the Dyfi river where Stan taught so many boys. A wonderful tribute to the one and only Stan Hugill whose ashes are buried as sea in Cardigan Bay.
Bronwen Irene Hugill-Gowers
26th September 2001