Titanic survivor Millvina Dean is to put up more of her family memorabilia for auction to raise money to pay for her nursing home fees.
In an interview with Ronan Corrigan from the Nomadic Charitable Trust, the 96-year-old woman revealed that she has another 17 items available to put on the market and will be auctioning some of them at Devizes in Southampton next month.
The last remaining Titanic survivor raised £32,000 when she auctioned seven items recently, including a letter of compensation sent to her mother after the 1912 tragedy. This was bought by the Trust to display on the SS Nomadic when it has been restored.
Mr Corrigan is pictured above with Millvina Dean and the letter sent to her mother from the |Titanic Relief Fund and (right) a 100-year-old suitcase, which is also up for auction.
Ms Dean revealed the money raised will not be enough to pay for her nursing care which comes to more than £3,000 a month.
“She is hoping to fare a bit better this time. She definitely needs to hold another auction to raise the money,” he told the Belfast Telegraph. “It’s a sad story she has to do all that to stay in a nursing home.”
Mr Corrigan travelled to Southampton with Una Reilly of Belfast Titanic Society to record an interview with Miss Dean which will form part of the SS Nomadic exhibition. The ship was saved from the scrap yard three years ago and brought back from France to Belfast where it is to be restored as a visitor attraction.
Miss Dean also signed a letter of support for the restoration of SS Nomadic, which once carried first class passengers onto Titanic on its ill-fated maiden voyage. It was built at Harland and Wolff alongside the legendary liner.
“She’s very much behind the project and wants to see it |succeed,” Mr Corrigan said.
Miss Dean’s family did not travel on Nomadic when they were boarding. They were travelling third class, headed for Canada where her father intended to open a tobacconist’s shop. After he was lost in the tragedy they returned to England.
But she did board Nomadic years later when it was converted into a floating restaurant on the River Seine in Paris. Once there, she encountered another former Titanic passenger — an Italian man who was also having a meal.
The youngest survivor, Miss Dean was nine weeks old when she was lifted into a lifeboat in a sack. Nowadays, Miss Dean receives letters from all over the world from wellwishers fascinated by the Titanic story and she strives to answer them all.
“It’s remarkable for a 96-year-old lady — I can’t believe she can do so much,” Mr Corrigan said.
“Her favourite pastimes are gardening and reading. She’s in a wheelchair now and can’t garden but she has a lot of her plants on the big window of her room.
“We bought her a shamrock brooch and she wanted to grow some shamrock, so we bought her a little pot and some seeds.”
And the conversation wasn’t all one way — at Miss Dean’s request, Mr Corrigan regaled her with a few songs, including The Fields of Athenrye, Peggy Gordon and Will Ye Go Lassie Go. On her 97th birthday on Monday there was a reprisal when he rang her nursing home to sing Happy Birthday.