The day everything changed

Late November 1992 saw the Cornish fishing port of Padstow devastated by the loss of two boats and five fishermen. One of those lost was 27-year-old David Masters. David’s niece, Kirsty, was only nine years old at the time. Today, Kirsty wants to share with you her personal story of the morning the news of the tragedy broke.


“I woke up that morning thinking I was late for school and that Mum had overslept. Little did I know what was waiting for me downstairs. Mum looked so sad and had obviously been crying. She led me to the kitchen table and told me that last night my Uncle David, his cousin, and a close friend had gone out to collect crab pots and they hadn’t come home. Although I was only nine I knew exactly what this meant.

In the evening I was taken by my dad to my grandparents’ house. As long as I live I will never forget that visit. Everything seemed dark save the light from the TV where the local news told its sorry tale over and over again.

Over the next few months I was aware that my daddy had organised a search of the coastline, trying to find my uncle’s body. Four of the five lost fishermen were found but my Uncle David never was. This was the hardest pill of all for us to swallow.

The Fishermen’s Mission had become a household name for us. Their support was brought up continually by my family. The local Superintendent was a regular visitor providing much-needed support. Our family still remember to this day the love, care and practical help of the Fishermen’s Mission.”

Kirsty’s story was not easy to write. The passing of time does not always ease the pain. The scars of losing a loved one to the sea can last forever.

Today, Kirsty’s connection to the Fishermen’s Mission is stronger than ever before.

In November 2017, Kirsty met Julian Waring of our South West England Team at a fundraising event in Padstow. Kirsty quickly volunteered to be an integral part of the team producing the book ‘Sea, Salt and Solitude’. Kirsty explains what the Fishermen’s Mission means to her:

“I love being a part of anything to do with the Fishermen’s Mission. I’ve run marathons, chased fishermen to be in the book, sold books at the Christmas festival and Christmas cards at the cricket game held in the summer on the Padstow Town sand bar.

The biggest highlight occurred when I told my story on the local TV news. I broke down in tears, remembering Uncle David. Somebody who had lost his brother at sea saw the coverage and tracked me down on social media. They thanked me for showing the pain and hardship families feel, something other people might not realise. I am privileged to have touched others in sharing my story. Raising awareness is a silver lining, meaning good can come from the most horrid experience my family faced.

The pain is still very real, and I hope no one ever has to experience it – the word ‘drowning’ is actually banned from my vocabulary. Yet I am so very grateful to Julian and everyone at the Fishermen’s Mission for keeping me as part of the family. They will never know how special this is to me.”

The love and care shown to Kirsty’s family all those years ago will always be remembered. Support like that is as vital today and can only be provided with help from friends like you.

One of the special ways you can help care for people like Kirsty’s family is to remember the Fishermen’s Mission in your will. A legacy is a gift that lives on after you have died, providing support and hope for those who need it most for years to come. Although we are not able to give legal advice, we can still provide you with useful information, so if you are considering leaving a gift in your will please call Andy on 01489 566922 or email