Family of Purbeck Isle skipper send message of thanks to community

GRATEFUL: Colin and Grace McFarlane, parents of Purbeck Isle skipper David McFarlane

Skipper David McFarlane who died in fishing tragedy

First published in News Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

THANK YOU – that is the message to the community from the parents of the Purbeck Isle skipper.

Colin and Grace McFarlane, the parents of David McFarlane, said they had been touched by the support of the community in the wake of the fishing tragedy.

They praised the work of all those involved in searching for David, 35, and his crewmen Robert Prowse, 20, and Jack Craig, 22.

They praised Dorset Police liaison team and everyone who laid flowers on the harbourside, left messages of support or helped the Purbeck Isle Memorial Fund in any way.

The Purbeck Isle went fishing on May 17 but did not return. During a three-day search mission involving coastguards, Portland helicopter, two Royal Navy vessels, a US research boat, Weymouth, Lyme Regis and Exmouth lifeboats and the National Coastwatch Institution at Portland Bill, David’s body was found and the wreck of the boat was discovered. But Mr Prowse and Mr Craig remain missing.

Hundreds turned out to show their respects at David’s funeral last week.

The family said that the tribute from the fishermen at David’s funeral was fantastic. A flotilla of boats carried the family and friends out into Weymouth Bay and let off flares and lanterns.

Mrs McFarlane said they placed roses in the water in tribute to him.

She said: “The tribute they gave to David in the harbour was a very good ending to a very sad day. It was absolutely amazing.”

Mr McFarlane said: “I didn’t realise they were going to do all that and I’m so glad they did.”

He added that he had joined a crowd of people at Portland Bill for a ‘touching’ ceremony where they released lanterns before doing a motorbike ride from the Bill back to Weymouth Harbour.

The family said they had been helped by the support and love shown by the community.

In the wake of the tragedy the Purbeck Isle Memorial Fund was set up, spearheaded by Weymouth and Portland Licensed Fisher-men’s and Boatmen’s Association, which aims to help the families, and especially the children of the lost men.

Mr McFarlane said David’s family had been touched by it.

He said: “It has touched us so deeply. We feel it’s so fantastic that it’s happening.”

Mrs McFarlane said: “It’s overwhelming.”

But David’s parents said that although they were being lifted by the kindness and support of the community that they had ‘quite a lot’ more pain to face.

He said: “We feel we have still not really been hit by it. Emotionally we still have quite a lot of pain to go through still.

“It’s definitely helped everyone gathering round us.”

They said they would remember their son as a passionate person who adored his family, his partner Vicky and his girls Bethany, 16, Caitlin, 13, and Hope, four, and loved life and loved the sea.

Mrs McFarlane said: “It’s been overwhelming the love and support and everything we have had, the cards and everything from people. It’s definitely helping us.”

The family are hoping to put a stone bench in Chesil Cove in memory of David as it was one of his favourite places and go out to the site of the Purbeck Isle to lay flowers in the water.

The McFarlane fanily statement in full

In a written statement from David McFarlane’s family they said they would like to thank everyone for their support.

The statement said: “There has been such an enormous response from the whole community at the terrible loss of David, Jack and Robert with the sinking of their fishing boat Purbeck Isle, that we, David McFarlane’s whole family would like to express our deepest and most sincere thanks to everyone who took part in any way during the large search and rescue operation and those who sent us messages of love and support or helped us in anyway.”

It continues: “We would like to thank each and every crew and support team member of the Weymouth and Lyme Regis RNLI lifeboats, Portland and Lee-on-Solent coastguard helicopters.

“The crews of each of the many vessels that took part in the search, including the US research vessel that also voluntarily surveyed the wreck of Purbeck Isle with their ROV unit to assist the Marine Accident Investigation Branch, the Dutch navy ship and British Royal Fleet Auxiliary, a nearby passenger ship, all the fishing boats and other vessels involved in the search and to the yachtsman who eventually found David.

“Dorset Police liaison team for their guidance, professionalism and support, Rose Funeral Service and everyone who attended David’s funeral either inside or outside the church, Reverend Canon Richard Franklin at Holy Trinity Church and the Reverend Deborah Smith from All Saints Church, Wyke Regis for their ministry. And the Fishermen’s Mission for their support and advice.”

The family thanked the staff at the King’s Arms for the buffet and their hospitality at David’s wake and for putting up two plaques to the three men in the bar, as well as the Weymouth and Portland Licensed Fishermen’s and Boatmen’s Association who are spearheading the Purbeck Isle Memorial Fund. They also thanked all the businesses who have been collecting and to everyone who has donated.

They thanked everyone participating in fundraising events, including musicians, comedians and a ‘legion of other people too numerous to mention,’ and G Crook and Sons who are donating a Portland Stone bench in David’s memory.

The statement continued: “Thank you to all the friends and members of the community, including visitors to Weymouth and Portland, who laid flowers and left messages of love and support on Weymouth’s harbour wall for David, Jack and Robert, including three friends who drove for more than 11 hours from Scotland to place their tribute to our boys.

“Thank you to all the fishing boat skippers and their passengers who paid tribute to David, Jack and Robert in a fantastic send-off in Weymouth Bay with flares, lanterns and chants of ‘Farley’ – David would be proud.”

They added: “There may be individuals, groups or organisations we have overlooked, to them we apologise and offer our heartfelt thanks and appreciation.”

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