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Island remembers Solway Harvester on 20th anniversary

Monday, 13 January 2020

Seven Scottish fishermen who died when their boat sank in Isle of Man waters will be remembered on the 20th anniversary of the Solway Harvester tragedy.

The crew, including three members of the same family, lost their lives when their scallop dredger from Kirkcudbright sank in heavy storms on 11 January 2000, 11 miles south-east of the Island.

The bodies of all seven Galloway men were found inside the sunken wreck.

The seven men were: skipper Andrew Mills (known as Craig), 29; his brother Robin Mills, 33; their cousin David Mills, 17; Martin Milligan, 26; John Murphy, 22; David Lyons, 18; and Wesley Jolly, 17.

As a mark of respect the Chief Minister and representatives of the organisations who helped with the rescue attempt and the recovery of the men will lay a wreath at the Solway Harvester memorial on Douglas Head in the Isle of Man at 11:00am on Saturday.

Members of the Island’s fishing community, the Royal National Lifeboat Association, Coastguard, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, and Douglas Borough Council will be in attendance.

Chief Minister Howard Quayle MHK, said:

‘On behalf of the people of the Isle of Man, I am grateful for this opportunity to pay tribute to the seven young men who lost their lives so tragically 20 years ago.

‘This terrible accident was a massive loss for their families and their community, a loss that is still being mourned two decades on in Scotland and in the Isle of Man. As a seafaring nation, we understood the heartache of those left behind and this tragedy has led to an enduring bond between the Island and the men’s home towns.’

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, said:

‘All our thoughts are with the family and friends of the seven men who lost their lives in this terrible disaster 20 years ago. There are close links between Scotland and the Isle of Man, particularly between our respective fishing communities, and I know the people of the Isle of Man share our enormous sadness on this anniversary.

‘The tragedy of the Solway Harvester is a reminder of the dangers faced by our fishing fleet, and the courage of those who work in the industry. It was a devastating loss to the Isle of Whithorn, and one that continues to be felt all these years on.’

Following the accident the Isle of Man Government, led by Donald Gelling CBE, mounted a £1m operation to raise the vessel from the Manx seabed and ensured the bodies were returned to their native Scotland for burial. The Solway Harvester was eventually demolished in Douglas in 2013.

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