News Articles

3 Weeks To Go!

The Fernley is now just 3 weeks away and the team are busy preparing for what will be a fantastic event. We can't wait to show you what we've done this year to mark the 130th anniversary of The Fernley Lifeboat disaster. Come and join us on New Year's Day with your family and friends (and even pets) to participate or just to watch on Southport Pier. Book on at 
Posted 11th December 2016

Gateway Sign Put Up At Kew Roundabout For 2017 Event

The Fernley were delighted to see this morning that the gateway sign has been put up at Kew Roundabout to promote The Fernley event taking place on New Year's Day. Send any pictures of you with the sign and we'll retweet the best ones to @thefernley. You may also have seen that signs have been put upp at Victoria Park, Hesketh Park and also King's Gardens where you will run/jog/walk through on the day. With the event now only weeks away final preparations are being put in place and we can't wait to show you what we've done with the event this year! Book your tickets at
Posted 5th December 2016

Names of Lost Commemorated with Names on Fernley Oars

The Fernley have created a special symbol to commemorate the lives of those lost at sea 130 years by having their names placed onto plaques and onto The Fernley oars. A procession of the oars will take place on New Year’s Day when members of the public are invited to remember the 27 men who lost their lives trying to save others off the coast of Birkdale beach. This will take place during The Fernley event where hundreds are expecting to take part by running/jogging/walking around King’s Gardens, up onto Southport Pier and then few those who are feeling brave, the opportunity to swim in Marine Lake to cure those hangovers!   Jonathan Cunningham MBE, The Fernley Founder, said “this is a fantastic way to commemorate the lives of men who put everything on the line to save others and ultimately lost their battle. We also want to commemorate the brave men and women who still keep our shores safe and especially those at the Southport Offshore and Rescue”.   The Fernley is Southport’s newest tradition and is for all individuals, families, friends and even pets to join in! Find out more about the event at
Posted 2nd December 2016

Jonathan Takes The Plunge Into Marine Lake

This morning Jonathan Cunningham, The Fernley organsier, braved the cold waters of Marine Lake and took the plunge in what was one of the coldest days of the year to promote the second ever Fernley. Crowds gathered along Southport Pier and cheered Jonathan on his way. The event was captured on Facebook Live and will be posted across our social media outlets. If you think you can also make your way through Marine Lake or just want to join in the fun with your family then book onto The Fernley on New Year's Day at 
Posted 25th November 2016

The Fernley Black Friday Weekend Special

To celebrate Black Friday, The Fernley are discounting both Full Immersion and Family tickets by up to 24% so make sure you're ready to get your tickets! From midnight on Friday 25th to Sunday 27th November this will be your final chance to get a discounted ticket before going back up to full price. Don't miss out on this fantastic offer and book online this weekend!
Posted 24th November 2016

The Fernley Sponsor Southport Ambassador Awards 2016

The Fernley are delighted to announce that we will become the headline sponsors for The Southport Ambassador Awards 2016 which celebrates fantastic business and events across Southport. The Fernley will be presenting an award so apologies in advance if we try and steal the limelight! Don't forget to send in your nominations to Southport Visiter with winners announced at the event on Thursday 3rd November. Good luck to all nominees! 
Posted 11th October 2016

Southport Comedy Festival 2016

The Fernley has once again teamed up with Southport Comedy Festival by sponsoring the upcoming festival in October. Our very own Jonathan Cunningham MBE, The Fernley architect, will brave the mic once again to produce a hilarious stand up raising money for their chosen charities. October will be the second time Jonathan will have been the main man on stage after stepping up at the festival in 2014. Be sure to book your tickets for this year’s festival at
Posted 28th September 2016

The Fernley 2017 Early Bird Offer

After the resounding success of the first ever The Fernley, early bird tickets have been put up on sale until Sunday 24th January where you can save up to 24% on tickets! We were overwhelmed by the feedback which we received so wanted to give yourselves the chance to plan ahead and book yourselves with a date in Marine Lake already. You don’t have to go into Marine Lake however, for those wanting to walk, jog or run the route you can do and still get to ring the old fisherman’s bell at the end!   Get your plans ready, The Fernley 2017 is going to be even bigger and better!  
Posted 6th January 2016

Winning Times Released

The event was a massive success with 25 completing the full Fernley Immersion.  The winner (and fastest time) was Kirsty Mackenzie (aged 32) from Southport with a time of 19.04 min. Fastest male Chris Growgan (aged 48) with a time of 19.07mins from Southport and Fastest international Andrew East  (aged 27) from Cape Town, South Africa Time 30.35mins. Many families also took part and walked the bracing 2 mile course.   The youngest was Bertie Cunningham (Aged 14) and Edward Cunningham (aged 17) who completed the course with their father and Fernley MD Jonathan Cunningham times of 22.35 mins.   This inaugural event commenced with a ceremonial start that aimed to commemorate the 27 lives lost in the 1886 life boat disaster. Also the event recognises John Fernley who was one of Southport’s greatest benefactors.   Jonathan said we were delighted with the turn our and spectating crowds. The event provided a suitable foundation upon which to build for the future. Many thanks to all that turned up, booked on and spectated. This is now Southport’s very own New Year ‘oddity’ which in time could have regional and UK recognition whilst supporting  2 great local charities of The Southport Life Boat Trust and Community Link Foundation.   Early bird offer goes on sale Wed 6th Jan 1200 – Sun 24th Jan 2359 hrs. So book on at  
Posted 5th January 2016

Croston women take part in The Fernley to raise money for flood appeal

Two Croston women took part in yesterday's Fernley event to raise money for the Croston flood appeal. Vanessa Glew and Emma Blackman kicked off their year with a two-mile run along Southport pier, followed by a plunge into the icy Marine Lake.   The pair say they were luckily enough not to have been affected by the Boxing day floods , but have witnessed the devastation first hand.   Vanessa said: "Like many in the village, although not directly affected, it's been hard watching our friends come to terms with the aftermath of the last few days.    "Most residents of Croston have had the ground floor of their home washed out by the flood water damaging everything in its path. "A massive thank you and eternal gratitude to all those who supported Croston flood appeal, many of you who have suffered your own traumas this last week."   Emma said; "A massive thank you to everyone who has donated.   "The Fernley was loads of fun but so cold it felt like we were being bitten - maybe we were. We were in fits of laughter as we struggled to get changed afterwards, it was like our body parts couldn't communicate with each other.   "We are hugely grateful for those who came to cheer us on. Happy New Year, everybody."   To donate to the appeal, click here
Posted 2nd January 2016

Southport aerial photo shows Fernley runners remember lifeboat tragedy victims

This magnificent aerial photo shows the moment when dozens of Fernley competitors paused to pay remembrance to those who died in the 1886 Mexico lifeboat disaster. The commemoration took place on New Year’s Day before the start of Southport ’s newest major event, The Fernley. It saw people of all ages running down The Promenade and then back around the obelisk memorial to each place a flower on the obelisk memorial in memory of those who died in the tragedy. On December 9, 1886, the Mexico was on its way from Liverpool to Ecuador when it was caught in a storm. Lifeboats were launched from Lytham, St Annes and Southport to rescue the crew. The Lytham lifeboat Charles Biggs, which was on her maiden rescue, rescued the 12 crew but both the St Annes lifeboat Laura Janet and the Southport lifeboat Eliza Fernley were capsized, and 27 of the 29 crew were drowned. Yesterday runners stood side by side with current members of Southport Lifeboat - a charity which depends entirely on the public’s generosity to keep going - as names were read out of all the 27 were perished. This superb aerial photo was take by Edward Cunningham. Fernley organiser Jonathan Cunningham said: “What a fabulous photo of the 1886 Obelisk with The Fernley act of remembrance. “The red you can see is the Southport Lifeboat crew. Even the Heather White, the current Southport Lifeboat, is seen on the road. “Rev Peter Knight blesses the crew and equipment to keep them safe in the coming year. “What a ceremony. Runners and walkers then lapped the memorial placing a flower at its base. The two large event banners are the start of The Fernley.” Runners completed the course by running down Southport Pier and back, before braving a swim across the Marine Lake. The Fernley is an annual event which will return on New Year’s Day next year. For more details visit
Posted 2nd January 2016

Southport's The Fernley Event is a resounding success

People in Southport saw in 2016 in an unusual way this morning - by either watching, or taking part in, a major new event in the town.   The inaugural Fernley event, organised by Southport businessman Jonathan Cunningham took place from 10am today (January).   The memorial involved a two-mile run through King’s Gardens and along Southport Pier and finishing with “the Plunge”, a 100m swim across the icy Marine Lake.   The occasion began with a Procession Of The Oars from the Waterfront Plaza, between the Ramada Plaza Hotel and Genting Casino, to the Southport Lifeboat Obelisk Memorial on The Promenade.   There they held a memorial service, led by Methodist Minister Peter Knight from the Leyland Road Methodist Church, to the 27 men who died in the Mexico disaster in 1886. During gales on the night of December 9 and into December 10, the Fernley Lifeboat was dispatched from Southport with 14 crew, along with lifeboats from Lytham, the Charles Biggs, and Laura Janet from St Annes. The crew from The Fernley lifeboat had previously been called out to rescue nine stricken ships, saving 52 lives in the process   The Charles Biggs rescued 12 crew but the other two lifeboats capsized, with 27 of the 29 lifeboat men drowned. As the New Year's Day event began, Rev Peter Knight of Leyland Road Methodist Church, said: "As we gather here we want to remember those who sacrificed so much." Jonathan Cunningham's son, Bertie, then read out the names of all the lifeboat men who had died, before Kitty Cunningham placed flowers on the obelisk memorial to all those who had perished.   The crowd then paid tribute to the men and women who crew Southport Lifeboat today, who were on hand to support the event, and who rely entirely on public donations to keep going.   Peter Knight added: "Every day of the year, these guys are waiting for the call to help those in peril out to sea - and indeed on Southport's Marine Lake."   The Fernley was won by Kirsty MacKenzie from Liverpool, who completed the endurance test in 19 mins and 4 secs.Among those taking part in the event was Alison McKenzie-Folan, the deputy chief executive of Wigan Council. After bravely swimming through the freezing waters of Southport's Marine Lake, she said: "The Fernley is an excellent event, really well organised. "There's been a real community spirit today in getting everyone together. "Well done to all those who have organised this event, and here's to next year!"   To purchase high resolution copies of any of the photos featured in our gallery,
Posted 1st January 2016

People invited to enjoy new Southport event The Fernley on New Year's Day

People are invited to enjoy the start of 2016 in a fun way this morning - by either watching, or taking part in, a major new event in Southport . The Fernley is a new annual event that will take place on New Year’s Day ever year. People are invited to come down and cheer on the participants this morning. Or they can walk up and sign up for the event on the day. 10am-11am: Registration, between the Ramada Plaza Hotel and The Hungry Horse, on The Promenade, Southport 11am: Procession Of Oars steps off from behind the Ramada Plaza Hotel 11.30am: Events starts - walk or run, starting at the 1886 Lifeboat Obelisk on Southport Promenade, next to Kings Gardens PR8 1QU Those taking part can either run around the course, or run and take refreshing plunge in the Marine Lake. This year’s motto is: “Walk and watch or run and plunge”. The event commemorates the 27 lifeboatmen who died at sea off Southport in 1886 and to celebrate one of our town’s greatest benefactors, John Fernley. Proceeds from the event are being donated to Southport’s Community Link Foundation charity and to Southport Lifeboat. Organiser Jonathan Cunningham, managing director of Storm Consultancy, said he is optimistic the “new tradition” will get bigger and bigger each year. He said: “This event will incrementally grow over the years as awareness spreads, so the important thing is that this event is held and we get some great pictures and initial support. “Whatever happens this will be outstanding and I’m so proud to be delivering this. I’m passionate about Southport and these two amazing charities CLF and the Independent Lifeboat Trust. “I’m hoping there will be some collections on the day. Life isn’t just about money, we are creating history and commemorating 27 men who lost their lives off our coastline.” Registration for the Fernley starts at 10am between the Ramada Hotel and the Hungry Horse, with the procession leaving there at 11am. At 11.30am, participants start the walk or run to the Obelisk monument on Southport Promenade before going on to complete the two-mile run around the pier and Southport’s seafront. To promote the Fernley, Jonathan took the plunge himself last week, and said the water ‘wasn’t that bad’. He said: “Once you are in it’s okay. The mild weather at the minute means the water isn’t too cold. “Make sure you are wearing trainers and take your time! “Regulating your breathing is a big thing. You have to slow it right down. “Once you are completely in it is easier. The worst thing is being half in half out. By the time you get to the other side you are actually quite hot.” The event had its first international participant booking this week – a South African native. Jonathan said; “It is basically two events wrapped into one – a family event to watch people taking the plunge and finish the run, and then for those who are more adventurous, they can immerse themselves for the swim across Marine Lake.” To join in on the fun, go to to book your place on the event.
Posted 1st January 2016

South African international swimmer signs up for the Fernley

Having swam against Olympic medallist Michael Phelps, Ryk Neethling and Roland Schoeman, wading through Southport's Marine Lake is probably not what South African swimmer Andrew East expected to be doing on New Year's Day. The Cape Town native is in the seaside town visiting family over the New Year and saw the Fernley advertised. The 27-year-old said he was "delighted" to be able to take part in the event which will commemorate the 27 lifeboat men who lost their lives off the coast of Southport in 1886. He said: "The Fernley’s New Years Day swim will be a unique and different experience even with my history, and it is important to recognise the power of the sea and commemorate the lives lost." Andrew has always been a strong swimmer and represented South Africa from 2002 to 2004. He is now a rescue diver and top man on the boat in charge of safety and first aid for recreational scuba divers. Andrew said: "These two skill sets along with brief experiences on oil rigs really makes what happened in 1886 hit home. "These men must have been through hell and back just to get out to the Mexico having enough courage and determination to press on into what was a very unfortunate tragedy. "Because of this we are prepared to get a little bit uncomfortable on new year’s day. "For me, I hope that it sparks a little something in someone who maybe teaches their child to swim, or helps the life boat trust and directly or indirectly saves a life down line." The Fernley is being held on January 1, and will involve various tributes to the men, including a Procession of Oars, a two-mile run and 'the plunge' - the 100m wade across Marine Lake. Those less adventurous are invited to make their to Southport 's seafront and watch as the Fernley unfolds. To book your place on the Fernley or to find out more, go to:
Posted 29th December 2015

Women set to outnumber the men for the Fernley swim across Marine Lake

Crowds of people are expected to watch waders make their way across Marine Lake on New Year's Day as part of a new Southport tradition - the Fernley. The event involves a two-mile run around the seafront and completing various traditions, with 'the plunge' in Marine Lake the climatic event. But with preparations in full swing and the building of the event starting tonight, organiser Jonathan Cunningham said there are far more women signed up for the swim than men. The managing director of Storm Consultancy said: "We mainly have women taking part in the plunge. There are very few men signed up to do the full immersion. "We have a couple of women coming from Preston to do it, with the females leading they way. "I thought it would be rugby teams and football teams taking part, but so far the blokes have been totally shown up." This is the first year for the Fernley event, with it set to take place annually to celebrate the bravery shown in one of the largest lifeboat disasters when 27 local lifeboat men died in 1886. It is raising money for the Southport Independent Lifeboat Trust and the Community Link Foundation. Registration on January 1 starts at 10am between the Ramada Hotel and the Hungry Horse, with the procession leaving there at 11am. At 11.30am, participants start the walk or run to the Obelisk monument on Southport Promenade before going on to complete the two-mile run around the pier and Southport’s seafront. To book your place on the Fernley, go to:
Posted 28th December 2015

The Fernley organiser takes 'the plunge' in Marine Lake ahead of the New Year's Day event

Marine Lake is not known for its swimming, but that is all set to change on New Year’s Day. The Fernley Event is Southport ’s newest tradition and involves a two-mile run and a swim in the icy Marine Lake. It will commemorate the town’s largest Lifeboat disaster and one of Southport’s greatest benefactors – John Fernley. Proceeds from the event are going to the Southport Offshore Rescue Trust and the Community Link Foundation. Storm Consultancy are organising the day and Managing Director, Jonathan Cunningham, tested the waters and took “the plunge” himself last week. He said: “It wasn’t actually too bad. Once you are in it’s OK. The mild weather at the minute means the water isn’t too cold. “The Fernley will encompass the run and plunge, and people can come and watch people make the wade across Marine Lake on New Year’s Day, or take part in it themselves. “It is set to be a very different event.” Final preparations are under way for the Fernley which remembers the 27 lifeboat men who died at sea in 1886. It is in its first year and Jonathan is hoping it will get bigger and become a nationally recognised tradition. Jonathan said: “Not a lot of people know about it yet, but in time this is going to be an incredible event in the region, if not across the UK. “It is set to put Southport firmly on the New Year’s Day map in terms of media coverage. We are incredibly excited. “It is basically two events wrapped into one, a family event to watch people taking the plunge and finish the run, and then for those who are more adventurous, they can immerse themselves for the swim across Marine Lake.” The day will start around 11.30am with the route heading to the Drinking Fountain, a gift from John Fernley in 1861. It then goes to the Obelisk memorial, with the two-mile race starting at the pier. The more adventurous contenders then take the plunge in Marine Lake. They can wade across the lake, before climbing out to ring the Old Fisherman’s Bell and signal the race end. For those who have signed up for “the plunge”, Jonathan has offered the following advice: “Make sure you are wearing trainers and take your time! “Regulating your breathing is a big thing. You have to slow it right down. “Once you are completely in it is easier. The worst thing is being half in half out! By the time you get to the other side you are actually quite hot.”
Posted 23rd December 2015

Fernley Procession honours Southport Lifeboat tragedy victims

The Fernley held its first ever lantern procession on Thursday evening to commemorate the lives from the Southport lifeboat disaster in 1886 in which 27 volunteers died. The procession which began at the Memorial Obelisk on Southport’s Promenade, made a stop off at the Southport Lifeboat (Southport Offshore Rescue Trust) boathouse before carrying onto The Fishermen’s Rest pub on Weld Road, Birkdale which is where the bodies were laid on the fateful day. A fitting tribute was read out by Fernley co-organiser Phil Moorhouse which included the reading of the names of those who lost their lives as well as holding a minute’s silence. Phil said: “It was fantastic that we could do something like this to commemorate the disaster. So many local people were affected by the tragedy at the time that we want to ensure that those who died aren’t forgotten.” Upon arriving at The Fishermen’s Rest at 10pm the pub held its own minute’s silence to remember the brave, something which they have done each year since landlords Ed and Jill Loftus took over the pub six years ago. The Fish, as it’s known by locals, also held a quiz night with the proceedings going to the Southport Offshore Rescue Trust. Fernley founder Jonathan Cunningham said: “It went very well - hopefully something on which to build each year. “For Southport it was one of our darkest nights when the lives of 27 mainly fishermen died. “The Fernley lantern procession is a powerful reminder of the mothers and wives who stood on the shores waiting for the safe return of their men. Sadly only two survived. “The Fernley procession will be an annual event to respectfully commemorate that dark night. “Sandgrounders must never forget and equally must support our independent Lifeboat Trust, which is entirely dependent on local fundraising. Commemorate the brave!” The Fernley is Southport’s newest event which takes place on New Year’s Day on the Promenade in Southport and has been designed for families, teams and individuals to take part and raise money for both the Southport Offshore Rescue Trust and the Community Link Foundation. Those who are feeling brave can also enter into the icy cold Marine Lake before ringing the old fishermen’s bell. To find out how you can get involved please visit
Posted 13th December 2015

Fernley Lantern Procession to The Fisherman's Rest pub in Birkdale this Thursday

The new Fernley event in Southport is hosting a lantern procession to mark the Southport Lifeboat disaster in 1886. It will start from the Memorial Obelisk on Southport’s Promenade and end at The Fishermen’s Rest pub on Weld Road in Birkdale, ahead of the pub’s quiz night. The procession sets off at 9pm this Thursday (December 10) with everyone welcome to join in. Fishermen’s Rest landlords Ed and Jill Loftus took over the pub in 2010 and restored the 14 brass mermaids onto the bar’s handrail which commemorate the lives of those lost in the Southport Lifeboat tragedy. ‘The Fish’ hosts a quiz night in aid of the Southport Lifeboat Trust which is still run by volunteers to this day. To commemorate the disaster, there will be a minute’s silence at 10pm and Ed will then read the ode to the lifeboat men who lost their lives in 1886. The Fernley is Southport’s newest event which takes place on New Year’s Day 2016 commemorating the lives of those lost. The Fish was a temporary morgue for the 14 sailors who perished at sea whilst trying to save the stricken Mexico barque, from Hamburg. Ed said: “Every year we come together for a minute’s silence to mark the day that the bodies were laid to rest in The Fish. “It’s great that The Fernley is recognising the disaster and raising valuable funds for the charities.” On New Year’s Day The Fernley starts with a short ceremony involving the Procession of Oars, Offering of Water and Blessing of the Lost before families. Individuals and teams can walk, jog or run the 1.95 mile course. For those feeling brave, they can take the plunge into the ice cold Marine Lake to start the New Year in style. Visit to book your place for what should be a day of commemoration, giving and fun!
Posted 9th December 2015

The first Fernley family ticket!

The Fernley team are excited to have spoken exclusively with Alison Cotterall this week, the first family ticket holder for the New Year’s Day event. Coming to Southport this 1st January 2016, many families will gather around the Southport seafront and cheer those on who are daring enough to complete the course then take the full Fernley immersion! Alison thinks the event is a brilliant idea and can't wait to watch those wading through the lake with her family on New Year's Day. Your family too can join Alison, simply book your tickets today!
Posted 19th November 2015

7 weeks to go! Have you booked your tickets yet?!

We are fast approaching our brand new New Year's Day event that is to be held in Southport on 01.01.16 and so far we have been inundated with interest from many people locally... And even regionally! All preparations for the event are now in their last stages - early bird offers on tickets that can save you up to 24% will no longer be available past 16th November so we encourage you to book now. See you all in 7 weeks!
Posted 10th November 2015