English town mourning Derek the Goose to erect statue in her honour

A West Country harbour town famous for its links to an albatross is to erect a bronze statue in tribute to another bird – Derek the Goose.

Residents of Watchet in Somerset are coming to terms with the loss of Derek, actually a female, who had lived in their harbour for more than a decade.

She is believed to have suffered a violent and mysterious death but, determined not to forget her, residents have launched a fundraising effort for a permanent memorial.

Watchet harbour was the inspiration for Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and a striking statue of the sailor and the albatross he shoots is a landmark in the town.

A second statue, of locally born John Short – Yankee Jack – who is known as a 19th-century father of sea shanties, is also a feature of the harbour.

The Watchet resident Carron Scott, who runs a Facebook page called Derek the Female Goose, has launched a fundraiser, explaining: “As many know Derek sadly died and she was part of our town of Watchet for such a long time. It has been decided we need a memorial – a bronze to fall in line with Jack and The Ancient Mariner.”

Derek had lived among the boats in Watchet marina since being blown into the harbour by a storm and had been fed and looked after by the town’s community ever since.

Scott said: “It’s devastated the town as I can’t think of anyone who did not know about Derek. When she arrived it was thought she was a boy so she was named Derek but when she had a health check it was discovered he was a she. But we never changed the name.

“She was well fed and there was a fund at the marina shop you could give to for food. When I went out in the evening I always had half a Weetabix to tempt her. She got on with everyone, even the boat cat.”

Flowers have been laid at a temporary memorial created on the Esplanade by Watchet marine staff, which includes a photograph of “the guardian of the marina”.

The goose’s death remains a puzzle. Derek regularly slept on the town’s slipway at low water and an early morning dog-walker reported seeing blood stains and a pile of feathers, though no body has been found.

Chris Moiser, the owner of Tropiquaria zoo in Somerset, was brought in to investigate and confirmed that the feathers and remains were those of a goose. Moiser, a former lawyer, suggested a fox could have done for Derek but said residents would have to be content with an open verdict.


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