A memorial to six fishermen who lost their lives off the Sussex coast has been unveiled, reports Paul Scott.

The sculpture, a copper- clad shoal of fish, was erected following a campaign partly co-ordinated by the family of Robert Morley, who lost his life when the Joanna C BM 265 sank on 21 November, 2020.

The Newhaven Fishermen’s Memorial was designed by local artist Christian Funnell.

Twenty-six-year-old Adam Harper, from Brixham, also died when the scalloper went down three miles off the coast at Seaford.

The memorial was unveiled by Jackie Woolford, Robert’s mother, and took place on what would have been her son’s 40th birthday. She told The Argus: “We wanted it for the first anniversary just so it was a specific day, but we couldn’t get it done by 21 November last year.

“Then we thought springtime. Robert always wanted something special for his 40th. For his 18th and 21st he got gold. Robert said: ‘I don’t want gold for my 40th, I want something special.’ You can’t really get any more special than this memorial.”

The sculpture, designed by local artist Christian Funnell, also commemorates Darren Brown, who in 2016 went overboard from Our Sarah Jane, and Joe Bowen, Andrew Penfold and John Ship, who lost their lives with the sinking of the Sylvia Marita in 1979.

A rose is laid at the base of the new memorial.

Around 100 people gathered for the unveiling, including some of the families of the lost fishermen, RNLI crews who responded to the sinking of the Joanna C, Coastguard crews, mayor of Newhaven Lesley Boniface, and Maria Caulfield, Conservative MP for Lewes.

“It’s a fishing town, so it’s very important to everyone,” said Maria Caulfield. “We should have had a memorial years ago – sadly it has taken these tragic events for this to happen.

“The beauty of this memorial is it’s a fishermen’s memorial. It’s not just for this one incident. I hope it brings people together and reminds them that people go out to sea to make a living, and tragic events can happen.

“It’s a dangerous place, and our fishermen put their lives on the line to bring food back for the town,” she told The Argus.

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here

Image credit: Dan Jessup

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