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Titanic relatives in Belfast for anniversary of tragedy

By Staff Reporter

It was 105 years ago today that RMS Titanic sank on its maiden voyage.

More than 1,500 of its 2,224 passengers and crew lost their lives after the liner hit an iceberg and sank in the freezing North Atlantic.

And to discover where the story of the doomed ship began, a group of more than 100 relatives, enthusiasts and historians from across the world have come to Belfast this weekend for the anniversary of the disaster.

The Titanic Gathering has been organised by Simon Medhurst, great grandson of the ship's quartermaster Robert Hichens, with support from Titanic Belfast and Visit Belfast.

Mr Medhurst, who hails from Chelmsford in England, said: "I wanted to bring the Titanic family together.

"All over the world there are many relatives, enthusiasts and experts who have never had the chance to see where it all began here in Belfast. This gathering is a chance for them to really connect with the birthplace of Titanic and with each other."

Over two days the group, which includes the family behind the inspiration for the Heart of the Ocean necklace from the Titanic movie, will visit various sites.

After hearing from experts, authors and representatives of Titanic societies and organisations from the UK and beyond, the group will explore Titanic Belfast, recently voted the 'world's leading tourist attraction'.

Meanwhile, a fur coat worn by a first class stewardess aboard the doomed line is expected to fetch up to £80,000 at auction.

Mabel Bennett was in her nightdress when the ship hit the iceberg, so grabbed the garment for warmth.

She wore the heavy coat for protection from the cold as she boarded lifeboat No5.

Mrs Bennett, who died aged 96 in 1974, passed the coat to her great niece in the 1960s.

It will be sold at auction by Henry Aldridge and Son in Devizes, Wiltshire, on April 22.

"Provenance with anything from the Titanic is vital, and it is possible to trace the history of the coat from the present day back to April 15, 1912," Mr Aldridge said.

The coat was recently on display at a museum in America, where it was shown in a recreation of one of the ship's first class staterooms.

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