Actor Caroline Quentin on the special appeal of the Helford River Estuary in Cornwall, and why she’s designed a bag with Seasalt for the Fishermen’s Mission. Interview: Alex Reece
My mother’s family were Cornish but I didn’t really discover that part of the coastline until my husband’s family took me there. They’d been holidaying in Cornwall since the 1960s. Now we have a holiday home on the Helford River and, as we live in Devon, I can go regularly – more often than not.
I love being on the water and in the water, and I’m quite a keen birder as well. I’ve got a little rowing boat called Hot Flushing, which I take out, and I go bird-watching in the mornings when it’s quiet and there’s no one around. It’s an extraordinary part of the coastline – verdant and almost prehistoric.
Sea Sanctuary, an amazing charity in Cornwall (seasanctuary.org.uk), use water and boats to help young people who are suffering from mental health issues. I’m trying to help them to raise funds because there’s very little mental health care for young people in Cornwall. They have to go out of the county to get help.
I’ve always found the water incredibly healing. In times of sadness and grief, the enormity of it makes you realise that whatever you are going through, there are bigger things out there.
There are five of us that have designed bags for Seasalt this spring (including Poldark actress Eleanor Tomlinson and designer Barbara Hulanicki, in support of the Fishermen’s Mission) and mine is without doubt the finest of all!
We rely on our fishermen in our coastal communities, so my doing something for the Fishermen’s Mission is a kind of thank you for all the delicious fish I eat and the fact they put their lives at risk. It’s a hard, hard job, and I know both fishermen and women where I’m based.
It’s such a centre, Cornwall, for creative people, too. I love going to small galleries and buying pieces of craftwork. It’s particularly wonderful down there in the autumn, when the sea is still warm. I have memories of my children, as littlies, stark naked standing under waterfalls and swimming in the creeks. I love that time of year. The colours are like nowhere else in England. Bags are £5 from seasaltcornwall.co.uk, with 50p from every sale going to the Fishermen’s Mission.