Mother of missing fisherman speaks of ‘agony’ ten years after losing a child

Carl McGrath's mother said every day that passes is agony and she just wants her son back. Credit: Daily Post North Wales / Family handout

The mother of a missing Llandudno fisherman has spoken of her "agony" at not knowing what has happened to him - ten years after losing another of her children.

Julie McGrath said the uncertainty over the whereabouts of Carl McGrath is "killing her".

Concerns were raised for Mr McGrath and crewmates Steve Minard and Ross Ballantine after their Nicola Faith fishing vessel failed to return to port last Wednesday.

It prompted a large-scale search and rescue operation spanning hundreds of square miles by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the RNLI and volunteers to try and find the missing men. The search was stood down last Friday.

Ms McGrath, 56, who lost another son ten years ago, said she was struggling to cope with this recent tragedy.

"My eldest son Anthony passed away when he was 26 and I've been dealing with that grief for ten years," she said.

"To then hear about Carl - the pain is unbearable. I can't believe this is happening. Why me? Why my boys?"Losing Anthony made me more protective of my other two children because I was so scared of losing them."Life went on for everyone else but me after that moment, and I really struggled to deal with it."

Siblings, Anthony, Carl and Lauren. Credit: Daily Post North Wales / Family handout

Ms McGrath said despite having a "challenging" relationship with her son Carl, she always cared for him and made sure he knew she would be there for him.

She said: "Me and Carl had our ups and downs over the years ,and for a while we didn't speak until he had a serious motorbike accident and broke his back."I thought I was going to lose him then. He ended up on life-support - it was horrible."But he got out of hospital and back on his feet and that brought us back together again."I think because I've smothered him it's caused us to fall out again, and the last thing I told him was: 'I love you, you can't take that away from me, but if you need me I'm here'."

Although they weren't always on speaking terms, Ms McGrath said she would often see her son in the street or on his boat, and would keep up with how he was doing through her youngest child, Lauren, 26."He was comfortable with that and I came to terms with it," she said.

"I wasn't happy about it because I wanted him back in my life, but I could see he was happy with that and I had to accept it."But whenever I saw him on his boat, which he spent two years doing up, it was fantastic to see the joy on his face over something he'd achieved."It made me feel so proud. He got his life back on track, even with all the hurt from losing his brother."

Carl McGrath's mother Julie said she was immensely grateful to the RNLI and everyone involved in the search operation. Credit: Daily Post North Wales / Family handout

Recalling the moment she heard the news about Carl's disappearance, Ms McGrath said: "I was at Lauren's house as it was her 26th birthday when she got a call to say Carl had gone missing."I went into hysterics - I couldn't believe what I was hearing."I went down to the boat house first thing the next morning and we started searching around the Orme."The support was unreal, watching rescue crews go out and to see even strangers were looking was amazing - I couldn't believe it."She added: "The RNLI, coastguard and rescue teams are absolutely fantastic. I can't thank them enough. I wish I could see them to thank them in person."They are all doing their best to get these boys back and you can't ask for any more than that. They are so brave risking their own lives when they have families too."I thank them with what heart I have left."But every day is agony, waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for news.

"It's not just us, it's the families of the other two men who going through this too."I'm just sat here with everything going through my head wondering if I am going to get my boy back, if I am going to lay him to rest?"I don't know how to deal with it. The pain is so unbearable I can't describe it - it's killing me."At the end of the day, we might not have had the perfect relationship but Carl's my boy; my baby. He'll always be my baby and I'm his mum."I've already lost one son and my other son is out there somewhere."Not knowing is the worst. The longer it goes on, the harder it is."

Carl McGrath, Steve Minard and Ross Ballantine were all on board the Nicola Faith when it went missing

Ms McGrath described Carl, from Llandudno Junction, as "well-known, well-liked and well-respected" and said he'd built up a "really good reputation" in Conwy."Everyone's been telling me he's one of the best fishermen. It makes you proud as a mum," she said."One of his nicknames was Grafter - he's such a hard worker and has gone from a chef to a builder to a fisherman."I saw him and the two other crew members the day before they went missing. I really hope that deep down, he knows I love him."I feel like I'm being ripped apart bit by bit, my heart and guts are ripped out more and more with every day that passes.

"Carl was my 7lb 11oz baby - I wish he was here now."All my children are my pride and joy, but with Carl I couldn't be prouder, seeing him turn his life around, set up a business and love what he's doing."I can't imagine not seeing him again. I can't face losing another son at an early age when they haven't even lived their lives."You hold your breath when you see the rescue crews going out and pray they'll bring him back, but when they don't you get downhearted. We need news sooner rather than later. This is too much to bear."Just give me news, please. I pray to God, just give me my boy back. That's all I want - I'm not ready to say goodbye."

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