Joanna C: The family pays tribute to Robert Morley on the anniversary

The family of a fisherman who died in the Joanna C tragedy said today’s weather was a “strong reminder” of the ship’s sinking two years ago.

Barry Woolford, Robert Morley’s stepfather, said family and friends would go to the memorial at the end of Fort Road in Newhaven around 5.30pm this afternoon to lay a wreath to mark the anniversary.

Ship’s Mate Robert was thrown off the deep end by the scallop dredger after becoming entangled in a row of whelk pots off Newhaven on 21 November 2020.

Deckhand Adam Harper was trapped in the capsized boat’s berth during the sinking while Captain David Bickerstaff was pulled from the water by lifeboat crews.

Mr Woolford said: “We hope to be able to lay wreaths at the memorial this afternoon. It will be mostly family and close friends, we think a few others will make an appearance as well.

“People have already discarded things.

“The weather is a powerful reminder of what happened two years ago today. There was such a hurrah, it wasn’t raining, but it was very cold.

The Argus: unveiling of the memorial in April. From left: Christian Funnell, Steve Bell, Jackie Woolford, Barry Woolford, Nick Gentry, Lewis Arnold, Maria Caulfield, Lesley Boniface and Trevor CutlerUnveiling of the monument in April. From left: Christian Funnell, Steve Bell, Jackie Woolford, Barry Woolford, Nick Gentry, Lewis Arnold, Maria Caulfield, Lesley Boniface and Trevor Cutler

“It’s a terrible feeling today, we don’t feel any better. We didn’t really get any answers.

“They changed the date of death to the day the boat went down and his cause of death was undeterminable, it wasn’t drowning. The speculation is that he died of hypothermia.”

Robert, who was from Newhaven, “succumbed to the cold and drifted away” before his body was found washed up at Bexhill the following month.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch released a report in June saying it did not know how long Robert was in the water before his death.

The Argus: Robert Morley's body was found washed up in Bexhill a month laterRobert Morley’s body was found washed up in Bexhill a month later

The report estimates it could have been anywhere up to three hours and 45 minutes after the boat capsized.

“After an hour in the water, the mate was inside the window from exhaustion, unconsciousness and death from hypothermia,” the report continued.

A memorial to fishermen lost at sea was unveiled near Newhaven in April.

The Argus: The ship Joanna C sank on November 21, 2020. Picture from the ship owner The ship Joanna C sank on November 21, 2020. Picture from the ship owner

In September, an inquest ruled that Adam and Robert’s deaths were accidental.

Hundreds gathered days after the sinking to pay their respects to Adam and Robert.

Robert’s funeral was held at Newhaven Quay in March 2021.

https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/23139729.joanna-c-family-pay-tribute-robert-morley-anniversary/?ref=rss Joanna C: The family pays tribute to Robert Morley on the anniversary

Fry Electronics Team

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