RENOWNED shanty singers Fisherman’s Friends inspired this year’s hit feel-good film. The true story of their rise to fame is told in the film starring Daniel Mays, James Purefoy, Tuppence Middleton and Noel Clarke with cameo appearances from the group whose voices also appear on the soundtrack.

Here band member Jon Cleave answers some questions.

Do you still look back with an element of surprise at how the group seemingly became famous overnight?

“We will always be amazed at how it happened for us. Suddenly entering the realm of rock ‘n’ roll was quite an experience, especially for gentlemen of a certain age like us. We always joke that, contrary to popular belief, ours is a ‘riches to rags’ story - haha!”

Legend has it that you were spotted singing sea shanties in your local village pub in Port Isaac in Cornwall ten years ago by a music industry executive who was on holiday?

“Yes, that’s absolutely true. The music producer Rupert Christie saw us singing down by the harbour at Port Isaac, just as we had done for many years previously, and he liked what he heard. A week or so afterwards, Rupert rang us and said, “Would you boys fancy making a record? I’m sure I can get you a deal.” The rest, as they say, is history.

After performing together for many years beforehand, how did it feel to see your debut album ‘Port Isaac’s Fisherman’s Friends’ become the album first traditional folk act to make the UK Top 10 album chart, selling 150,000 copies and being certified gold?

“Sounds mad, doesn’t it? Considering that before we released the album nobody outside of Cornwall had ever heard of us, it was difficult to comprehend. It didn’t seem real. A good example is when we were booked to appear on breakfast TV and they surprised us by presenting us with these gold discs. We just assumed our manager had made them on his kitchen table at home and done it for a laugh. However, it was all genuine, and each of us now has one on our wall at home to prove it!”

Has the success of the group enabled you to give up your day jobs?

“No - but we would want to, either. We make a little bit on the side with the singing, but we’ve got nice lives and we all love our day jobs. We’ve got several fishermen in the group, I run a shop and I write books, Bill Hawkins is a potter, Johnny Mac is a builder, Johnny Lethbridge works as a marine engineer, John Brown works as a tour guide around the village and Toby Lobb is a filmmaker. Being self employed really helps, as it enables us to schedule our working lives to fit around the group’s touring.

Who portrays you in the film?

“Thankfully, we’re not depicted as individuals in the film, which is something we’re all quite happy about. I mean, I’m fairly tall with a very bald head and a handlebar moustache – none of the actors look like that, although one of the actors does have a moustaches, albeit not quite as luxuriant as my facial topiary!

“Seriously, though, the actors in the film don’t look like us individually, but collectively they look like us a group. They are what I like to describe as a very good approximation.”