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Full details revealed of event to mark 20 years since Morecambe Bay cockling tragedy

A fire in the shape of a boat will be lit on Morecambe beach to mark 20 years since the cockling tragedy

A special event on the beach will mark the 20th anniversary of the deaths of 23 Chinese cockle pickers who died after being trapped by incoming tides in Morecambe Bay.

More Music will commemorate 20 years since the Morecambe Bay cockling tragedy with an event on Morecambe’s West End Beach on Sunday February 4 from 4.30pm to 6pm.

This will be followed at 6.30pm by an event with music and food at More Music's home on Devonshire Road, featuring the Long Walk Chinese Ensemble and flautist and cook Guo Yue.

The deaths highlighted the desperate plight of exploited migrant workers who often travel thousands of miles in the search for a better life and confirmed the danger of the Morecambe Bay and its shifting sands.

The Morecambe Bay cockling tragedy on February 5 2004, led to the government giving its backing to the Gangmasters Act, aimed at stamping out gangmasters and to safeguard the welfare and interests of workers in agriculture, horticulture, shellfish gathering.

The event will be held to think about the lives lost and commit to making the world a safer, better place for all. 

On the West End beach by the Battery there will be music, warm drinks, braziers, lanterns on which people can write messages and thoughts, and finally the lighting of a fire in the shape of a boat.

The words of poet Lemn Sissay will also be written on the wall behind the beach

“There’s a time of day you can talk to a wave when you live by the side of the sea 

"You can hear its words in the whispering spray when you live by the side of the sea

"The tales it tells of the storms and swells, things you hear but never can tell 

"When you live by the side of the sea.”

At More Music, an ensemble of musicians and singers will perform a selection of six songs from the Long Walk.

This piece was created in 2006 in Morecambe as a musical and theatrical response to the tragedy and told the story of leaving home, travelling, arriving, working and then finally dying in the shifting sands of the Bay.

It was originally conceived by Morecambe musician Pete Moser and Lemn Sissay with words and music developed by the community over many months, and the project then was repeated in Liverpool, Gateshead and Hong Kong.

It started a 12-year development of More Music community music projects in Hong Kong and Southern China.

Guo Yue is an internationally renowned flautist who has performed regularly at the WOMAD festival and at events across the UK.

More Music is a music and education charity based at the Hothouse in Morecambe, with 30 years' experience of delivering workshops, training, performances and festivals across the district, region and beyond.

The event on the beach is free.

The Long Walk Chinese Ensemble featuring Guo Yue at More Music runs from 6.30pm to 8pm. Admission is pay what you feel (£5/£10 suggested).

Read more: Music group's new season to include day marking 20 years since Morecambe Bay cockling tragedy - Beyond Radio

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