North Wales Road Runner Steve Bozier battled strong gale-force winds and freezing hail showers to complete a gruelling six-laps of the Great Orme last Saturday to help raise funds in the search for three missing fishermen.
Steve, a popular local bus driver and keen endurance athlete from Llandudno, mastered about 33-miles (53.39 kms) and over 1,000 meters of climb, as an ultra-marathon run, supported by club colleagues, in his bid to help pay for an intensive search by deep sea experts to locate the missing fishing boat Nicola Faith and her crew of three.
The boat disappeared suddenly at the end of January, and Steve, who is a long-time family friend of one of the missing men, Ross Ballantine, felt he needed ‘to do something,’ to help find Ross and crew-mates Alan Minard and boat skipper Carl McGrath.
An extensive two-day search was undertaken at the time by the Coastguard, RNLI, and other emergency services, when the fishermen failed to return to their home port at Conwy.
The investigation into the possible causes and circumstances surrounding the vessel’s loss, however, is still ongoing.
And the search for the vessel is still being co-ordinated by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB). This organisation has been working with underwater experts to cover a wide area including all of the vessel’s known historic operating area.
Despite this ongoing search, family members are also hoping to provide extensive funds for an additional private search by experienced international marine specialists.
Raft found off Scottish coast
Last week, there was a further development, when a life raft belonging to the Nicola Faith was found at Kirkcudbrightshire, just off the Scottish coast by HM Coastguards.
It was discovered about 90 nautical miles from where the fishing boat was believed lost, on the evening of 27th January. Since identified by the MAIB, it has now been transported to their Southampton laboratories for further examination and analysis.
Six-hour challenge round the Great Orme
Steve took the best part of six hours to complete his incredible challenge and praised the support of family, friends, and colleagues from NWRRC.
Several runners ran laps of the Orme with him and provided him with constant support and encouragement during his arduous task.
He confirmed: “I would like to thank my amazing support from club members on my charity Orme ultra-marathon. There was some fantastic running, especially from Richard Scamans, Stuart Culverhouse, Lesley Goodson and Karl Morris. You really did get me through it!”
And on Monday morning Steve admitted: “I’m very sore and fatigued at the moment, but proud to be part of this amazing community that has pulled together for our common cause to raise the search funds needed to bring our lads home.
“The support for the run from fellow NWRRC members, who each helped out from two-laps to four, out of my six, really helped get me though it, as did my dad Paul Bozier as my ‘aid station’ at the Rest and Be Thankful cafe car park, together with unbelievable local support along the way, with lots of cheers, claps and beeping – but most of all. from the families of the lads who have been lost at sea for six weeks now.
“The weather wasn’t the best for my first ultra-marathon with gale-force winds and hail to deal with, so it’s really mind over matter, grit your teeth, and just get on with it. You can’t prepare for the pain of the 6th lap when every part of your body wants to give up, but well worth every mile.
“When I heard, and then saw the crowd cheering at the end, where I started and finished the race at the Ballantine’s family home, it was really overwhelming, and hard to hold back the tears!
“Nearly £4,000 raised so far, when I only had a target of £500 is quite unbelievable; and it’s still only now sinking in, but the search finally starts this week when the weather eases off, and we can finally bring our lads back. I am so proud of this amazing community.”
Steve’s original target of just £500 towards his quest was overtaken within the first day, and at the time of writing totalled £3,856.
He explained that any money collected will go towards additional fundraising for a private search for the missing boat, and her crew, by deep-sea expert and underwater specialist David Mearns, who previously led the deep-sea search for the crashed light aircraft that carried the late Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala.
*Steve Bozier has a JustGiving fundraising page, and donations can still be made via this link: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/stephen-bozier?utm_term=ZmjkjJ26d&fbclid=IwAR2zz4knNyyA-vMkb7GyEp-X8Z34ldYkqLZqEDJe5MZNo1uuwNSsL7ZxTvY
**LATEST NEWS: – NORTH WALES POLICE STATEMENT
On Monday afternoon, 15th March, North Wales Police issued an update: –
We are aware that the bodies of three men have been recovered from the coastline off the Wirral and Blackpool over the weekend.
We have been in contact with colleagues from both Merseyside and Lancashire Police, and we await the outcome of the Home Office post-mortem examinations.
The families of the missing crew members from the vessel ‘Nicola Faith’ have been kept informed and continue to be supported by specialist officers. We would request that they are given the necessary privacy at this difficult time.