Families of missing fishermen raise nearly £11,000 to fund specialist search by expert who found Sala wreckage

  • Video report by ITV Wales journalist Ian Lang

The families of three fishermen who went missing off the north Wales coast have launched a fundraising appeal in order to pay for a specialist deepwater search.

The online page generated nearly £11,000 in donations in three days but the family aim to raise £75,000 in total.

The money will go towards paying for David Mearns, who led the successful search for Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala's plane wreckage, to help look for the missing boat.

The Nicola Faith vessel was due to arrive at Conwy Quay on January 28 with Carl McGrath, Steve Minard and Ross Ballentine on board.

A search, which involved several lifeboats, a helicopter and a plane, for the missing boat and its crew was called off after two days.

The fundraising page has been set up by Nathania Minard. Credit: JustGiving

The search for Carl McGrath, 34, Ross Ballantine 39, and Alan Minard, 20, was stood down by the RNLI and Coastguard on January 29.

A month later, the families of the three men are raising money to try and find the boat and its crew, as well as answer some questions about what happened to their disappeared loved ones.

The fundraising page describes Carl McGrath as "a hard-working skipper with a partner and family who are immensely proud of his achievements" while Ross Ballantine is called "a devoted father whose two boys desperately long and wait for his return".

It also states that Alan Minard, the youngest of the crew members, is "full of dreams, his smile would light up any room".

The families are aiming to raise the £75,000 needed to pay for the assistance of the same deep water recovery expert who found the plane wreckage containing the body of Emiliano Sala.

The Cardiff City footballer's plane crashed into the English Channel with pilot, David Ibbotson, also on board. With Mr Mearns - known as "the Shipwreck Hunter" - leading a privately funded search, the plane wreckage was found within two hours.

The search operation spanned hundreds of square miles of ocean but was called off after two days.

The families of the missing fisherman said they want to know what happened so they can move forward.

The fundraising page states: "We are now trying to raise the necessary funds for a private search by experts who we believe have the best chance of enabling us to bring our lads home.

"Not knowing is one of the hardest parts to deal with as it leaves the families with so many unanswered questions.

"Closure is critical to enable the family’s to move forward, remember the good times rather than worry about what happened on that fateful day.

"The search will not be cheap hence the fundraising target but every little will help. We will make sure it does!

"Any remaining funds after we find them will be used towards a memorial in honour of the men, the local community and three broken families."