Crowd of mourners burst into applause as Nicola Faith fisherman’s funeral cortege travels through Welsh town


A huge crowd broke out in applause as a Welsh community paid tribute and bid farewell to a fisherman found dead after his boat vanished off the coast of north Wales.

The Nicola Faith fishing vessel disappeared near Conwy on January 27. Its three crewmen – skipper Carl McGrath, 34, Ross Ballantine, 39, and Alan Minard, 20 – were onboard at the time. An extensive search for the trio and their vessel was launched and the bodies of the three men were discovered at different coastal locations in England on three consecutive days in March.

On Thursday, the funeral of Mr McGrath was held at St Mary’s Church in Conwy with restricted numbers due to ongoing Covid-19 guidelines, but many of his family and friends were able to pay tribute as his funeral cortege made its way through the town. More than one hundred mourners, including members of the coastguard, the RNLI and the police, lined up just yards from where the Nicola Faith set sail on its last voyage and where Mr McGrath worked as a fisherman.

The cortege travels through Conwy on Tuesday afternoon

Mourners pay their respects

The crowd then broke out in spontaneous applause as the hearse carrying the coffin of Mr McGrath stopped at the quay, before it moved on to St Hilary’s church in Llanrhos where he was laid to rest.

Mr McGrath’s mother, Julie McGrath, and his sister, Lauren Mary Ann Hynes, paid tribute to the community which has shown such support to the family and friends of all three fishermen since their disappearance in January.

The coffin makes its way past the quay

(L-R) Ross Ballantine, 39, Alan Minard, 20, and Carl McGrath, 34 who went missing on board the Nicola Faith on January 27

They told North Wales Live : “We would once again like to thank the entire community as a whole for the support received, and the effort the community have put into helping bring the three boys home. All three boys can now be put to rest and we will make them proud in doing so. We would also like to thank Carl’s friends for understanding the funeral arrangements and we are hoping those that are able to show their condolences are able to do so from the Conwy Quay as we take Carl on his final journey through the place he loved most.”

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On Tuesday, a sunken boat was found around two miles off the coast in Colwyn Bay. It is thought to be the missing Nicola Faith, with the Marine Accident Investigation Branch confirming that the find was “of significant interest”. It has launched an investigation which is ongoing.

Also on Tuesday, the inquests into the deaths of Mr McGrath, Mr Ross Ballantine and Mr Minard were opened in Ruthin by the senior coroner for North Wales East and Central, John Gittins, who said the last radio traffic communication from the Nicola Faith was at 9pm on the day of its disappearance.

All three men were identified by DNA, the inquest openings heard, and no provisional causes of death were given. Mr Gittins adjourned the inquests to a date to be fixed.

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