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Sandy Murray reports
"No-one in these small communities has been untouched by the tragedy"
 real 28k

Willie Johnston reports
"Prayers were said for each of the men"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 9 February, 2000, 19:17 GMT
Harvester crewmen laid to rest

Mills family Members of the Mills family pay their last respects

Hundreds of mourners have gathered for the first five funerals of seven Scottish fishermen who died at sea.

Skipper Craig Mills, 29, his brother Robin, 33, their cousin David, 17, and teenagers David Lyons and Wesley Jolly were on board the Kirkcudbright-based Solway Harvester when it went down just off the coast of the Isle of Man on 11 January.

To Craig and the boys on the Harvester. Sadly missed, always remembered. From the boys on the Kingfisher
Floral tribute
Mr Jolly, 17, was the first to be laid to rest. On Wednesday morning relatives and friends made their way to Whithorn's sandstone church to pay their last respects.

The Priory Church of St Ninian was not big enough to hold the hundreds who turned out in a display of grief and solidarity for the youngster's devastated family.

Many stood outside the church where the Rev. Alexander Currie conducted the funeral service.

The mourners then moved to the Catholic church of St Martin and St Ninian in Whithorn for the funeral of Mr Lyons, 18.

Again dozens stood outside in ranks 10 deep.

Wesley Jolly Victim: Wesley Jolly,17
Mr Lyons lived with his parents in the town where he had been an assistant coastguard and some of his colleagues were there to pay their respects.

The Mills boys were laid to rest on Wednesday afternoon in a service at the tiny church in Isle of Whithorn.

Both the church and the village hall were packed and hundreds stood outside on the streets.

One poignant floral tribute came from the crew of another fishing boat and was shaped like a scallop dredger.

It said: "To Craig and the boys on the Harvester. Sadly missed, always remembered. From the boys on the Kingfisher."

Three-week wait

All the crew were from the Machars area of Galloway which includes the tight-knit villages of Isle of Whithorn, Whithorn and Garlieston.

Floral tribute A tribute from fellow fishermen
The final two - Martin Milligan, 26, and John Murphy, 22 - will be laid to rest in private services on Thursday.

After waiting more than three agonising weeks for their men to be found and returned, the funerals are a watershed for the communities.

They have been united in their grief following the sinking of the vessel in heavy seas off the Isle of Man.

On Friday, the families watched in silence as the bodies were finally returned from the sea.

With a lone piper playing in the background, they stood on a sheltered walkway over the isle's Douglas harbour as the supply vessel Scotian Shore transported their loved ones to shore.

DAvid Lyons Victim: David Lyons, 18
Alex Downie, Fisheries Minister for the Manx Government, travelled with the bodies back to Scotland.

He said On Wednesday: "It was a very moving sort of experience for me.

"I travelled with the bodies and then sat in the long cortege which has never been seen before - seven men travelling in identical coffins along twisty minor roads.

"People came out to pay their respects as we delivered their loved ones back to them."

Fresh attempts to raise the vessel failed again on Sunday and it is now expected to remain on the sea bed for at least the next few weeks until better weather gives the Isle of Man authorities a chance to raise her.

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Trawler sinking
The unfolding of the Solway Harvester story

See also:
07 Feb 00 |  Scotland
Final journey home for fishermen
06 Feb 00 |  Scotland
Wreck salvage 'could take weeks'
05 Feb 00 |  Scotland
Inquest heartbreak for trawlermen's families
05 Feb 00 |  Scotland
Inquest begins on Harvester seven
04 Feb 00 |  Scotland
Divers recover trawler bodies
14 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Solway Harvester: A tale of tragedy

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