On Thursday, March 22, invited guests and the Fishermen’s Mission gathered to award the bravery and initiative shown by four crew members of the fishing vessel FR 246, ‘Renown’.
On Sunday, May 1, 2011, while on the North Sea, the crew of Renown were alerted that a man had fallen overboard from the vessel after he became entangled in fishing gear.
Port Missioner Murray Campbell told the men’s story last Thursday, recounting how the bravery of James Buchan jnr, 35-years-old, James McKay, 32, James Hendry, 32, and Ewan Lambert, 42, had worked as part of an efficient team in recovering the body of crew-mate Billy Stephen, 61.
As the men struggled with the force 5 winds and heavy swells, they feared the worst.
Mr Lambert and Mr McKay, using all of their strength were able to pull Mr Smith aboard using the power block, the crew having initially tried to throw Mr Smith a lifebelt to no avail.
Following CPR from Mr Buchan to bring Mr Stephen to a faint pulse, the mayday was sent out on May Day.
Mr McKay and Mr Hendry also aided in the CPR process as the distress call was sent out, all four men bravely acting to ready the freezing Mr Smith for helicopter transport.
At home, Mr Stephen’s wife, Mary Stephen, was attending the Gospel Music Convention, surrounded by friends and family who gave her great support. By the evening, Mrs Stephen was in Norway, at her husbands bedside.
“If it wasn’t for these men, I would just be another memorial plaque on the wall of the mission,” Mr Stephen said at the ceremony.
Mr Stephen spent several weeks in hospitals in Norway, Aberdeen and Fraserburgh, before returning home.
Mr Buchan, the skipper, said: “We were only doing what came naturally. Billy is not just another crewman, he’s a member of the family and we knew we had to do everything to save him.
“People are saying we were really brave, but the most courageous man on that boat was the one who was in the water and refused to give up.”