Belinda Heathcote (Honorary)

January 11, 2021

Belinda Heathcote (Honorary) born in 1927,died on 15th December 2020. She was our last link with the very early beginnings of Mercury.  Her father  0320 Captain Arthur William Hutchinson, was among one the earliest Mercury Boys and was at the school 1890-94.  He returned in a teaching post in 1928 and Belinda spent some of her childhood years living at the school.  She joined us in Hamble for the last reunion and some really interesting memories. For the history of her father see below:

0320 Captain Arthur William Hutchinson Borras 1890-94 Came from South London and joined the Mercury when he was 12. Because of family opposition to a sea career Arthur stayed at the Mercury until he was 18 becoming virtually an unpaid instructor. Eventually because his father would not sign papers for him to join the Royal Navy he signed on as an ordinary seaman in a yawl called Vega and later served as an AB in the Aberdeen White Star wool clipper Miltaides. Realising he was not ordinary fo’c’sle material his captains encouraged him to study and in 1902 he passed for 2nd Mate and in 1906 when he was 27 he passed for Master. He went on to serve in ships engaged in the nitrate trade from South America and after 1912 he spent some time in Norwegian ships before joining the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey clipper ships carrying oil in barrels from New York to China. In 1916 he returned to Britain and joined the The Inland Navigation Service but six months later he was involved in delivering ships for the British Government. In November 1918 he received a Kings Commendation for Meritorious Services and a Lloyd’s Silver Medal for saving the crew after his vessel, the Argentinian flag cargo ship Punta Ninfa was sunk off the French coast by an enemy submarine in August 1918. From 1918 to 1921 he commanded three ships for the Hudson Bay Company and later worked for a while in Aden. However, with the post war slump taking its toll he found it difficult to find further seagoing employment. Eventually Mrs Fry offered him a part-time teaching post at the Mercury. Initially he taught Navigation but eventually in 1928 after failing to find seagoing work he became the permanent Master of the Mercury’s training tender Vishalla, the purchase of which was his inspiration. Arthur Borras, who was a great asset to the Mercury, died of cancer in 1936 and is buried in Bursledon Churchyard. In later years Belinda Heathcote, spent some of her childhood years at the Mercury and later became a family member of the Mercury Old Boys’ Association.