PUBLISHED: 12:07 12 July 2016 | UPDATED: 12:37 30 August 2017

caroline quentin_2

caroline quentin_2

Caroline Quentin’s Cornwall is full of old-school charm - whether in Doc Martin or in her own TV show touring the county – and behind the scenes her support runs even deeper with a trio of charities to her name

Caroline Quentin has graced our screens for almost 25 years – most recently joining her Men Behaving Badly co-star Martin Clunes in his hit TV show Doc Martin playing grumpy, vet Angela Sim – and few actresses boast such a strong Cornish pedigree for the role: Caroline’s grandmother was from Newquay and her mother grew up on Bodmin and was a nurse at Treliske hospital during the World War II.

And I still have close relatives in Padstow,’ she adds. Every year for the last 16 years I have taken my own children to holiday on the Helford River, which is where my husband’s family have spent many happy holidays since the 1960s. It’s a wonderful place in the summer but I love the autumn in particular, when the waters are warm and the ancient woods on the banks of the Helford are reflected in the river.’

So it’s hardly surprising she was picked to present a show exploring Cornwall for ITV which became Caroline Quentin’s Cornwall.

I visited some of the most stunning and interesting places the county but if I had to pick out some personal highlights I think it would have to be my visit to Prideaux Place, a heavenly Elizabethan house,’ she tells me. It has one of the most ancient deer parks in Britain with views over Padstow and the Camel estuary. Because I was filming I was allowed to hand feed the fallow deer; the deer were delightful but not as much fun as Peter and Elisabeth Prideaux-Brun who’s family have lived in the house for more than 400 years.’

And the memories of her time travelling Cornwall keep coming. Opening the Newlyn Fish Festival was great despite the biblical rain,’ she jokes. Cornish fish and seafood is a real passion, so it was fascinating to see such a variety of fish displayed so artistically and to meet the people who work at the sharp end of this industry. I’m ever grateful to those prepared to brave all weathers to bring back to shore the food I love.

My special visit to Roskilly’s Farm will always stay with me, meeting the delightful Rachael Roskilly and her family was a treat and who wouldn’t enjoy baking scones with Rachel and inventing a Cornish cream tea ice cream and eating it!’

Inevitably an entertainment series about Cornwall concentrates on warm days and sandy beaches, good food and family fun, but of course just like anywhere else, Cornwall has a less sunny side. And with that in mind she has close connections with three Cornish charities doing vital work to improve the lives of people – and animals – in Cornwall.

This year she has taken on the role of patron of Sea Sanctuary, a marine-based, mental health charity founded in 2006 – and it’s something she is immensely proud to be a part of.

As the mother of two teenagers, I’m aware that adolescence these days is tough - but some youngsters find it tougher than others,’ she says. Through no fault of their own, many young people are struggling to live life to the full because of mental illness.’

And this is where Sea Sanctuary can help. Based in Penryn it offers truly unique support to those suffering from poor mental health, using Grace , a 70ft wooden yacht and Waters Edge, a land-based facility. It offers unique support to those suffering poor mental health. Young people can sail around the Cornish coast and receive expert therapy, counseling and respite care. They can learn coping strategies; break patterns of self-harm, alcohol and drug abuse and develop trust, confidence and self-esteem.

When I am struggling with grief or sadness or just feeling emotionally “all at sea” I love to be by or on the water; I’ve always found it restorative and healing so Sea Sanctuary is very close to my heart,’ explains Caroline.

But demand on the service is ever increasing she says. We are currently raising funds to purchase a 180ft floating educational centre. This will enable Sea Sanctuary to expand the remit of their service to support some of the most vulnerable people in Cornwall. The much-needed facility will accommodate up to 14 people, and will have classrooms and assessment areas. If fundraising goes to plan and with a following wind Sea Sanctuary might operate as a self-sustaining charity.’

Caroline has also put her creative skills to work in helping other fundraising programmes in Cornwall – Seasalt is selling a bag she has designed for The Fishermen’s Mission ( which supports fishermen and women and their families during hard times. On my bag is a fishing boat and a shoal of mackerel, no prizes for guessing my favourite fishy supper!’

She has also found some four-legged chums in Penryn where she is Patron of the Flicka Foundation Donkey Sanctuary ( Run by Judy and Laurie, two remarkable women, who with the help of some truly inspirational volunteers, keep the place going on a very limited budget,’ say says. Go and see them for a brilliant day out and meet Bertie a rare Poitou donkey or a donkey called Caroline, my namesake, then have a slice of homemade cake in the lovely tea room and maybe if you’re feeling kind, adopt a hairy Caroline of your own!’

Caroline now lives in Devon but will be back in Cornwall soon (we hope). Last year I played a grumpy, self-medicating vet in Doc Martin, with my friend Martin Clunes, there is talk of bringing the character back next series, so with a bit of luck I will be able to spend more time in one of the most beautiful places on earth.’

Find out how you can support the vital work of Sea Sanctuary at

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