Save the Children Shop in Port Navas

It was a sad time when the Save the Children Shop was forced to close in 2012. Today it is once again part of the adjoining cottage from which it had been sealed off. It had functioned both as a shop and post office but in my childhood it was a boat store used by Tom Westlake from Plumb Tree Cottage (now Creek Cottage) and Captain Harry Nash from Maenporth. Tom also used it as a barbers shop for a select number of customers who came on Sunday mornings for a trim. Later it became the office of Gunton & Edwards, Estate Agents and Valuers. Philip Gunton had Point Cottage built at the time. This companionship ended in January 1963 and John Edwards continued for a time afterwards and as far as I remember the premises remained unused until Mary “Hawk” Hawkins opened the Save the Children Shop in 1973. At this time she opened shops and branches all over Cornwall but she knew Tom and Anne Westlake well having trained with Anne at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital where Tom was being treated for war wounds. “Hawk” bought a house in Constantine and walked or hitched a lift to Port Navas to open the shop each day. Either the Westlake’s or my mother drove her home or failing this a willing helper did. “Hawk” became a family member and spent hours relating stories of her life whether it was with refugee children in Korea, in Palestine, in Jordan or with the Free French in North Africa in 1941. For her efforts there she was awarded the Croix de Guerre. She often came for Sunday dinner after attending Constantine Church with Anne Westlake and always spent Christmas dinner with the Westlake’s and my mother. Mary Hawkins was a deeply religious person. She was fond of animals, of all kinds, especially cats and had a great sense of humour. She was a tireless worker on behalf of Save the Children. For this she received the MBE in 1959, the OBE in 1969 and in 1998 she received from Princess Anne, the Save the children Medal. She died aged 90 in 2002.

David L. Bruton,
Oslo, Norway