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Willie Johnston reports
"All seven crew were lost when the scallop dredger foundered in heavy seas off the Isle of Man"
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Monday, 8 January, 2001, 16:03 GMT
Harvester tragedy remembered
Solway Harvester
The seven crew of the Solway Harvester perished
The families of the crew who died on board the Solway Harvester fishing boat have revealed how they have been struggling to come to terms with their loss almost one year on.

The Galloway-based scallop dredger went down in heavy seas off the Isle of Man on 11 January last year.

A film crew has revisited the small tight-knit community and its findings were due to be screened in a special Everyman documentary at 2235 GMT on Monday on BBC1.

Celtic clock
The birthday clock David Lyons never saw
In it many of the families talked publicly for the first time about how the tragedy devastated them beyond repair.

Those on board the boat when she sank were skipper Andrew Craig Mills, 29, of Isle of Whithorn, his brother Robin Mills, 33, of Castlehill, Whithorn, and his cousin David Mills, 18, of Isle of Whithorn.

Four others perished, including Martin Milligan, 26, of Garlieston, David Lyons, 17, of Whithorn, John Murphy, 22, of Whithorn, and Wesley Jolly, 17, of Whithorn.

Unusually for a fishing disaster, the wreck was raised and the bodies of the men brought home to their families.

Bedroom shrine

The effort made to recover the crew was largely due to officials on the Isle of Man, which was just 11 miles from where the boat sank.

Almost 12 months after the tragedy, the bedroom of David Lyons has remained a shrine to his memory.

John Murphy
John Murphy: "We have to carry on"
Amid the keepsakes of his favourite football team Celtic, a special clock stands in the room - marking the 18th birthday David never saw.

Meg Lyon, his mother, said: "He never actually got to see the clock because his birthday wasn't until 25 March, but it is important to me to have it up."

All of the relatives interviewed have spoken of their anxious wait for news on the recovery of their loved ones' bodies.

Johnny Jolly, the father of Wesley Jolly, said: "At first we heard they had found six bodies, but they could not find the seventh. I then discovered that the seventh was Wesley's.

'It becomes real'

"I am glad they found him, because it would have wrecked me totally if they couldn't have recovered his body."

John Murphy, father of John Murphy jnr, said: "As times goes on you understand more fully that you are not going to see him again, gradually it becomes more real."

But life goes on in the fishing community. Karen Mills, whose husband Robin was also killed in the tragedy, gave birth to their second child last year.

Robbie Mills
Robbie Mills: A symbol of hope
Little Robbie Mills now symbolises the families' hopes for the future.

A Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) investigation into the cause of the tragedy is expected to be concluded on Thursday - exactly one year on from the sinking.

But an official report is not likely until later in the year.

An Isle of Man Police spokesman said a full report would be passed to the coroner once the investigation was completed.

Inquests will then follow, although not within the coming months.

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Trawler sinking
The unfolding of the Solway Harvester story
See also:

08 Jan 01 | Scotland
Solway families look to Manx coroner
01 Dec 00 | Scotland
Crew 'dredged' Harvester wreck
06 Nov 00 | Scotland
'Scuttling' inquiry under way
10 Oct 00 | Scotland
Fresh doubts over Harvester safety
14 Aug 00 | Scotland
Solway Harvester sister vessel sinks
22 Feb 00 | Scotland
Trawler probe finds safety flaws
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