A MEMORIAL fund set up in the wake of a fishing tragedy has raised more than £44,000 – including a total of £10,000 from Echo readers.

The Purbeck Isle Memorial Fund was set up after Weymouth fishing boat the Purbeck Isle went out to sea on May 17 and never returned.

During a three-day search involving Weymouth lifeboat and Portland helicopter, the body of skipper David McFarlane, 35, was recovered and the wreck of the vessel was discovered.

The body of crewman Jack Craig, 21, was recovered on August 9. Crewman Robert Prowse, 20, is still missing.

In the wake of the tragedy the Purbeck Isle Memorial Fund was set up, spearheaded by the Weymouth and Portland Licensed Fisherman’s and Boatman’s Association.

The fund has six trustees and twelve committee members.

To date more than £44,000 has been raised through donations from across Dorset and the UK. Readers of the Dorset Echo have raised almost a quarter of the total – £10,000 – through collection tins, online donations and by acting as a collection point for donations.

A collection of £4,500 was handed over in June and throughout the summer readers, businesses, churches, community groups and the fishing community continued to donate.

The final contribution from Echo readers – £5,556 – has now been presented to bring the final total donated through the paper to £10,056.

Andy Alcock, from the memorial fund, said: “The response has been overwhelming, not only locally but outside Dorset.

“It’s been incredible.”

He added: “It just keeps rolling on.

“It just keeps going. People keep asking us to empty the collection buckets and give them back.”

Mr Alcock said that some of the money from the memorial fund had already been used to help the families of the three fishermen.

The memorial fund has also been used to pay for the funerals of both David McFarlane and Jack Craig and will be used for a service of celebration for the life of Robert Prowse.

Mr Alcock said that the fund would be continuing into the future.

He said: “The committee and board of trustees are thankful to everyone that’s helped in the collection.

“Thank you to all the local shops and hostelries that have been collecting and thank you to all the other organisations outside Dorset that have contributed.”

Peter Prowse, Robert Prowse’s father, said he wanted to thank everyone for their kind donations and the fund organisers for their hard work.

He said: “Thank you to everyone that has donated. I would like to praise the memorial fund committee for doing what they have done.

“It is very much appreciated.”

Colin and Grace McFarlane, David McFarlane’s parents, said they were ‘deeply touched’ and thanked everyone for their kindness.

Mr McFarlane said: “It’s absolutely marvellous that people are still donating. We are deeply touched.”

Mrs McFarlane said: “It’s absolutely fantastic what the Echo readers have done to make that contribution.”

A grand prize draw will be held shortly for the fund and tickets are still available. For information, visit the Sailor’s Return on Weymouth harbour- side or you are invited to email purbeckislememorialfund@gmail.com For more information on the fund visit purbeckislememorialfund.com