A MALTON man has been finding his sea-legs for his latest musical theatre role.

Rob Davies is playing lighthouse keeper William Darling, father of Grace Darling, in the world premiere of Grace Darling the Musical.

The show, which was written by playwright Dennis Westgate, follows the story of Grace Darling’s life from 1826, when her family moved to Longstone lighthouse on the Farne Islands, right up to her tragic death at the age of 27.

Grace’s life changed dramatically in September 1838 when the steam boat Forfarshire hit rocks near her home with the loss of 43 lives.

Grace insisted she and her father row out to the wreck in gale-force seas and managed to save the lives of nine passengers and crew.

Word of her heroism spread and she was later awarded an RNLI silver medal and a Royal Humane Society gold medal as well as £50 from Queen Victoria.

Rob said: “Playing Grace’s father has been a real eye-opener in terms of understanding the character and the extremely difficult life the family must have lived back in the 1800s.

“They had no fewer than nine children and without electricity and all of today’s mod-cons life must have been incredibly tough. There were no flowers, no trees, no grass – nothing but the sea and birds.”

As part of his research, Rob visited the Darling family’s home village of Bamburgh.

“As well as the museum, you can see where Grace was born, her sister’s cottage where she died and the family grave and memorial in the church cemetery,” he added.

Grace Darling the Musical is at York’s Joseph Rowntree Theatre from today (Wednesday) until Saturday, July 3.

Tickets are £10/ £8 concessions, phone 01904 623568 www.yorktheatreroyal.co.uk