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Nicola Faith: Grieving families in lasting legacy vow on anniversary of dreadful tragedy


One year ago today three fishermen went to sea on the Nicola Faith and they never returned home.

The boat set off from Conwy Harbour on January 27, 2021 to fish the seas off Colwyn Bay.

An initial two day search for the vessel returned no trace of the three men or their boat.

Read More: Seven-week-old baby died after being found unresponsive in cot

It was around three months before Carl McGrath, 34, Ross Ballantine, 39, and 20-year-old Alan Minard were discovered, causing their families and loved ones unimaginable grief.

Their bodies had washed-up at three different coastal locations in England within days of each other.

The wreck of the Nicola Faith was finally found on the seabed last April, just metres from its last known position.



From left Carl McGrath, 34, Ross Ballantine, 39, and 20-year-old Alan Minard
From left Carl McGrath, 34, Ross Ballantine, 39, and 20-year-old Alan Minard

In May it was raised from the seabed, before being transported back to land by barge where the cause of its sinking is still being investigated by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB).

On the anniversary of that terrible day, the families of the three men have revealed the pain and anguish of the last 12 months and their determination to create a lasting legacy to their boys.

They recently attended a “man-overboard recovery and life jacket training” session at the RNLI’s their purpose-built college in Poole.



Families of the missing fishermen attended a sea survival course last year vowing to prevent further commercial fishing tragedies
Families of the missing fishermen attended a sea survival course last year vowing to prevent further commercial fishing tragedies

In an interview with the RNLI, Ross Ballantine’s sister Lowri Taylor said: “One year on, we’re wanting to create a lasting legacy to the boys and use our experience to share our story and hopefully save more lives.

“It’s too early to say what measures may have prevented this dreadful incident, but anything which improves safety and gives fishermen a better chance has got to be a good thing.

“We don’t want any other family to suffer in the way we have all done and feel by supporting the RNLI and speaking about our experience, we can make a difference.

The search for the Nicola Faith fishermen

“It was so very emotional for us to be there and see the fishermen who worked alongside our loved ones.

“We are however grateful for the experience of meeting face to face with them and helping them to understand the impact of what is left behind.

“We are thrilled that the RNLI is using our words on future courses and hope our story helps change their attitudes to safety.

“The courses really helped us to see the excellent work already being undertaken to improve safety and we have now pledged to work alongside the RNLI to spend this money wisely for projects which will help save lives in memory of Carl, Ross and Alan.”



The wreck of the Nicola Faith craned onto the dock side at Dickies boatyard
The wreck of the Nicola Faith craned onto the dock side at Dickies boatyard

The families of all three men have since raised thousands of pounds for the RNLI after lifeboats spent more than 90 hours at sea searching for the men.

A Just Giving page raised £11,500 for the RNLI crews.

Frankie Horne, RNLI Fishing Safety Manager added: “The family has shown such compassion and strength in wanting to use their tragic experience to prevent more lives being lost.

“We are looking forward to continuing our relationship with the families and helping educate about the various projects running to improve commercial fishing safety.

“As a charity, having this investment from them is obviously vital and so very much appreciated.”

An inquest into their deaths has been opened and adjourned until a later date.

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