In the late 1930’s my maternal Grandfather John Dyke, approached Lundy’s then-agent Felix Gade to see if he could arrange a visit to the Island.
It was arranged that he would travel over on the Lerina in May 1940 for a fortnights’ stay but the second World War put a halt on this. Instead he put his artistic talents to very good use – drawing one of the invasion maps for the Normandy landings, mapping traffic routes through to Luneburg Heath (where the German Army capitulated), and later being posted to Cowley Barracks to make a series of maps that recorded war campaigns.
In 1944 he married my Grandmother Joan and they lived in Lancashire where they had my uncle David and my mum Jilly. In 1948 he joined the Lundy Field Society and finally made his long-awaited trip to Lundy, staying in the Old Light and meeting with the owner and agent, Mr Harman and Mr Gade. From this moment on, Lundy trips became a regular occurrence and the family moved south to Fairy Cross, Devon in 1949, so that they could be closer to the Island.
"One day I'm going to come and live here..."
At this time my Grandfather was a founding partner of Atlantic Coast Studios (then based in Bideford) where he designed many of the Lundy stamps, paintings of the island, and numerous drawings for the annual reports of the Lundy Field Society – serving as their secretary from 1959-1966. In 1970 he was given the great honour of being invited (by the Landmark Trust) to take up the position of Artist in Residence on Lundy where he spent 6 years producing the highly collectable ‘Lundy Illustrated news.’
Around the same time my dad, Reg Lo-Vel was working on Lundy renovating the buildings, having been enticed to Island life whilst running the boats to and from his hometown of Ilfracombe.
He had first visited the Island as a 9 year old on a calm sunny day in 1958, and remembers watching the Island draw closer from the deck of one of the Campbell steamers thinking ‘one day I’m going to come and live here.’
My maternal grandfather, John Dyke and his wife Joan.
A Glorious Backdrop
My mum Jilly had taken up residence on the Island with her parents and was employed in the Manor Farm Hotel and in typing up Felix Gade’s memoirs which later formed his book ‘My life on Lundy’. Under the most glorious of backdrops, Mum and Dad fell in love & they married in 1974.
They moved back to the mainland and later started family life in the quaint fishing village of Boscastle in Cornwall. My older sister Jenny was born in 1979 and I followed in 1982. We travelled to Lundy every year for holidays – mostly staying in Brambles with my Grandparents or family friends.
These holidays continued until May 1990 when, on one of our family holidays, a chance remark by mum to one of the Islanders led to her realising that there was a vacancy for a couple to work there. They applied for the post whilst still on that holiday and had an interview with the then agent John Puddy, before sailing home, securing the position for a September start.
A frantic summer in our home village of Boscastle followed, with them securing my sister and I spaces at a boarding school in Bideford, giving notice on jobs, selling the family car, packing up the house and arranging removals.
My sister and I started at Edgehill College in Bideford on September 3rd, 1990 and Mum and Dad sailed for Lundy at 10am on September 8th, with bursting hearts, two cats and a hamster in a biscuit tin in Mums handbag.
Jill's Lundy Journal - Volume 1
I know the intricacies of their 1990 journey and the time beyond when my sister and I were away boarding as I am lucky to have my mum’s Lundy journal. It was given to her that same year by my Grandparents and is inscribed with two words on the bottom inside cover - “Paradise regained”…