A large crowd of people have attended a memorial service for fisherman, Paul Alliston,
who was lost at sea when the shellfish boat, Louisa, sank off Mingulay on 9 April
The 42-year-old from Stornoway - also known as Paul McMillan - was the skipper of
the Lewis-owned vessel.
Martin Johnstone, 29, from Caithness, and father-of-two, Chris Morrison, 27, from
Leverburgh, Harris, died.
Lachlan Armstrong, from Stornoway, survived after managing to swim ashore.
Before the service, Paul’s brother, Andy McMillan, said the day “represents thanks
for Paul’s life and to thank friends, family and everyone who helped us get through
the last twelve months.”
“We would have liked to have Paul home and have had a funeral for him 12 months ago.
Now one year “just after the anniversary of the accident we feel now is the right
time to thank everybody for everything they have done.
It gives “his friends a chance to say goodbye as well. Paul was very well loved on
the island. It is really sad.”
“To a point time heals but it is not the same. Today gives us an element of closure
but there still is not full closure because we don’t have Paul’s remains home.
“We can’t bury him - we don’t have anywhere to go on the anniversary of his death.
The ocean was his grave unfortunately.”
The family were overwhelmed by the huge wave of support, help and endeavours from
the Barra, Eriskay and South Uist community which turned out in force to scour shore
and sea for Paul’s body. Many islanders also helped with cooking and catering for
the search volunteers.
And as weeks went by, the crew of Barra lifeboat still continued to search around
Mr McMillan expressed the family’s grateful thanks to the people of Barra and Uist
“who all come together” to help.
At the end “there wasn’t much else that could have been done which hadn’t already
been done,” he said.
Earlier, Rev Tommy Macneil said the service will not bring “ultimate closure to the
family because they are still waiting and hoping for Paul’s remains to be found.
“The Western Isles is a close-knit community, and fishing is still at the very heart
of who we are.”
The “whole community was gripped by a sense of mourning, sadness and loss,” when
the tragedy occurred, he said.
“I knew Paul personally as a teenager going about the town and I entered into a sense
of grief myself for a mate who I had known and was a good pal of mine,” added Mr
Mr Macneil gave a tribute to Paul and the “full of life character that he was.”
“While we mourn his loss we also want to come to God with thanksgiving for his life.”