HUNDREDS of people packed into a Weymouth church to celebrate the life of Robert Prowse on what would have been his 21st birthday.

Family and friends of the missing Purbeck Isle fisherman held a special service for ‘Prowsey’ at Holy Trinity Church on Weymouth harbourside yesterday.

The father-of-three would have been 21 and the church was awash with hooded tops, or hoodies, as friends and family donned them in an act of remembrance for Robert who always wore them.

Colin and Grace McFarlane, the parents of Purbeck Isle skipper David McFarlane, attended the service to show their support.

The Reverend Canon Richard Franklin welcomed everyone and said that the day was about celebrating ‘everything that was and is true about Prowsey’.

Mr Franklin said Robert would be remembered for his ‘friendship, generosity and enthusiasm’.

He added that the memories that people had of Robert would live in their hearts forever.

Hymns All Things Bright and Beautiful and Amazing Grace were sung and Robert’s father Peter Prowse gave a tribute.

Wearing a white hoodie, Mr Prowse thanked everyone for attending the celebration.

Thanking all the skippers and fishermen that took Robert on and taught him the trade, Mr Prowse said it was a shame that Robert would not be able to pass on that knowledge to the next generation.

He said his son loved his three little girls ‘very much’, he said: “He was a good dad – I’m proud of him for that.”

Laughter filled the church as Mr Prowse told some anecdotes and stories about his son and was given a rousing round of applause.

Seven of Robert’s immediate family, including his partner, mum, dad, and brother, lit candles to ‘say goodbye’ to their loved one and placed them around a photo and birthday card to Robert at the front of the church.

As this took place, the Bryan Adams hit Summer of 69 rang out as Robert liked the song and he and his mum Maxine used to sing it in the car together.

The final hymn was Eternal Father Strong to Save.

Afterwards, the celebration for Robert’s life continued at the Admiral Hardy pub on Chickerell Road.

Memorial Fund Reaches More Than £44,000

THE Purbeck Isle went out to sea on May 17 but never returned.

A three-day search was launched involving Portland coastguards, Portland helicopter, Weymouth and Lyme Regis lifeboats, local fishermen and Royal Navy warships.

During the search the body of skipper David McFarlane, 35, pictured on the right was found. The wreck of the Purbeck Isle was also found about 10 miles off Portland.

The memorial fund for the families of the Purbeck Isle was set up and donations began to flood in from the community and across the UK as people rallied round to show their support for the crew and their families.

The fund was spearheaded by the Weymouth and Portland Licensed Fisherman’s and Boatman’s Association.

To date more than £44,000 has been raised.

The body of Jack Craig, 21, pictured on the left, from Portland was found in August but Robert Prowse is still missing.


  • May 17: 8.30am - The Purbeck Isle leaves Weymouth Harbour to go whelking 5.40pm - Portland Coastguard receives a phone call from a fisherman who is concerned about the Purbeck Isle 6pm - With no word from those on board, the vessel is reported missing. 7.15pm - The Weymouth Lifeboat is launched to search for the Purbeck Isle, along with Coastguard helicopters and Royal Navy warships 11pm -The Lyme Regis lifeboat is launched to carry out additional search
  • May 18: 5.30am - The search for the Purbeck Isle resumes 8am - Fishermen join the search for the vessel 3pm - Specialist equipment is sent down to the seabed to look at an object of similar size to the Purbeck Isle 5.30pm - The body of skipper David McFarlane is found
  • May 19: 9am - Police say they have found the wreck of the Purbeck Isle 10 miles off Portland 11.50am - It is confirmed that the body found is that of David McFarlane 3.45pm - The search is called off for Jack Craig and Robert Prowse 
  • May 22 - A memorial fund is launched for the families of the Purbeck Isle crewmen
  • May 23 - Renewed calls are made to save the Portland Coastguard which took part in the search 
  • May 25 - It is decided that the Purbeck Isle wreck will be left on the sea bed
  • May 30 - David McFarlane’s funeral takes place with flares being fired from a flotilla of boats
  • June 1 - Hundreds of mourners attended a memorial service for the three fishermen on Portland Bill
  • June 29 - It is revealed that Dorset Echo readers have raised £4,500 for the Purbeck Isle Memorial Fund, with donations still coming in
  • August 9 - The body of Jack Craig is found off the coast of Devon. Robert Prowse remains missing
  • October 6 - It’s revealed that the Purbeck Isle Memorial fund has raised £44,000
  • October 24 - Hundreds of people attend a Weymouth church on what would have been Robert Prowse’s 21st birthday to celebrate his life