Nicola Faith: Family of fisherman vow to improve sea safety on anniversary of their death

The Nicola Faith families mark the first anniversary of the tragedy Credit: RNLI

The families of three fishermen who died at sea mark the first anniversary of their loss by vowing to prevent further commercial fishing tragedies.

Ross Ballantine, 39, Alan Minard, 20, and skipper Carl McGrath, 34, all died when their boat "Nicola Faith" sank off the Conwy coast on 27 January 2021.

One year on, the families have pledged to work with the RNLI to improve commercial fishing safety and prevent other families suffering.

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

Alan Minard, 20, Ross Ballantine, 39, and the boat's skipper Carl McGrath, 34, were aboard the Nicola Faith when it went missing.

Additionally, a Go Fund Me page raised thousands of pounds to help fund a private search thanks to the kindness of the local community.

On the first anniversary of the fishing vessel failing to return, the families have announced some of the remaining funds will now help support RNLI in its bid to save more lives.

The families are now exploring a variety of options and working with the RNLI to decide how they want the money to be spent to provide a lasting legacy to their loved ones.

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

The RNLI invited the families to the Fleetwood Offshore Survival Centre to witness an event the charity is carrying out with the Fishing Industry Safety Group (FISG).

They attended a classroom session and watched from the side-lines, as fishermen were put into a survival pool with and without lifejackets to experience first-hand the benefit of wearing one.

As part of the course, which was attended by fishermen from across North Wales, the families spoke with delegates about the impact of their loss in the hope they would see the importance of wearing the correct kit and having a plan in an emergency situation. 

The RNLI also captured interviews with the family members which will be used on future courses to stress to fishermen the suffering endured by families of such fishing tragedies.

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 families have assisted a training course at the Nautical Campus in Fleetwood, Lancashire, that simulates a "man overboard" situation. Credit: RNLI

"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."

In a statement, the RNLI said it has been "touched by the generosity and the courage shown by all three families and the local community."

The families spoke about the importance of wearing the correct kit and having a plan in an emergency situation. Credit: RNLI

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

"The RNLI and its partners have been running these awareness events, which are funded by Trinity House and MCA for a number of years, Being able to put fishermen in the water and experiencing a man overboard situation has a real impact and really does make them think carefully about making changes.

"We are so grateful to the family for helping us to provide this element of the course, which I firmly believe will be the most powerful tool in changing attitudes and behaviour.

"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."

  • Read more: