Family of missing fisherman desperate to bring their 'best big brother' home

Alan Minard, who was working at a boatyard in Dartmouth before the pandemic hit, is one of three fishermen who were lost at sea in January. Credit: Liverpool Echo/Nathania Minard

The family of a 20-year-old fisherman who was lost at sea in January is raising money to fund a search for him and his two missing crew mates.

Alan Minard, who was raised in North Wales, moved to Devon in 2019 to pursue his passion in marine engineering.

He had been working at Creekside Boatyard in Dartmouth for about nine months when the UK went into lockdown in March 2020.

Alan took up a new job as a fisherman so that he still had an income during lockdown.

On 28 January 2021, he and two other men, Ross Ballentine and skipper Carl McGrath, were reported missing after their boat, the Nicola Faith failed to return from a fishing trip.

Alan's parents, Nathania and Rebekah Minard, and the families of Mr Ballentine and Mr McGrath, have raised almost £20,000 of their £75,000 total to pay for a private search for the boat.

David Mearns, the deep water recovery specialist who led the successful search for the footballer Emiliano Sala, has offered his services for free but the specialist equipment and crew will still need to be paid for.

Alan's family say he was 'the best big brother' who 'always wanted to make them smile and laugh'. Credit: Liverpool Echo / Nathania Minard

Alan has three younger siblings, aged two, six and 16, who his parents say have always looked up to him.

They say he will be remembered for his sense of humour and for always wanting to make his family smile and laugh.His mum Rebekah said, "He was funny, he was the best big brother for the younger ones. He was always laughing and joking, he'd pull funny faces and make them laugh."He used to wear his heart on his sleeve and he would go completely out of his way to help out a mate."Nathania added, "He wasn't just a big brother to his siblings, he was a big brother to everyone. He was a dreamer. It's always the good ones [that get taken too soon]."Nathania said Alan was set to return to Dartmouth when lockdown lifted and he could go back to work.

She said, "Alan worked on Creekside boatyard in Dartmouth. He'd been working there for about nine months when Covid-19 happened so he came back [to North Wales] to get a job for Covid-19. Then he was going to go back to Devon."He was only doing fishing while there was no work. He was trying to earn some money and was saving to get his driving licence and his first car."He'd found his niche. He'd worked as a contractor and a chef before, but it was the marine engineering work that he loved doing."Fishing was just a way of making money. He wanted to be a marine engineer. If this hadn't happened, he'd be going back there [to Creekside] working and doing one day at college."

The families of the missing fishermen have set up a Justgiving page to raise money for a search for the Nicola Faith. Credit: Nathania Minard

On the fundraising page she set up to help find the missing fishermen, Nathania said, "We are still yet to come up with any answers or definitive information regarding the whereabouts of the boat, or the fate of the people aboard."Carl is a hard-working skipper with a partner and family who are immensely proud of his achievements."Ross is a devoted father whose two boys desperately long and wait for his return."Alan is 20 years old and full of dreams, his smile would light up any room."Three families are distraught and desperate for answers but mostly just want their three men home."Nathania added, "Not knowing is one of the hardest parts to deal with as it leaves thefamilies with so many unanswered questions."Closure is critical to enable the families to move forward, remember the good times rather than worry about what happened on that fateful day."Any funds left over once the fishermen have been found will be used for a memorial in honour of the men, the local community and the three families. Find out more, and donate to the cause, here.

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