The Refuge Box
Half way between Holy Island and the mainland of Northumbria, a flight of steps leads to a wooden cabin on stilts. It is the Refuge Box, built to save people cut off by the tide from being swept away and drowned.
This is the focus of a new radio poem by Katrina Porteous, whose poetry, recorded all over Holy Island and in the Refuge Box itself, is interspersed with other voices, including island fishermen who remember rescues and tragedies, the coastguard and lifeboat crew, the bird warden, the Franciscan vicar of Holy Island, and a refugee who fled her West African homeland to seek sanctuary in Britain.
Beyond the human voices is the poetry of the place itself, the seals singing, the wheeze of swans flying over Holy Island, sudden jet fighters protecting this sanctuary yet violating its peace and, always, the wind and the sea.