A fundraiser in aid of those who have been affected by a major search operation to find two Brixham fishermen after their boat sank has raised nearly £15,000 in just over a day.

The online GoFundMe appeal was launched yesterday morning (November 22) by the previous owner of the boat which sunk off the Sussex coast in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Three people were onboard the scalloping fishing vessel Joanna C. One person, skipper Dave Bickerstaff, 34, was found clinging to a lifebuoy, recovered from the water by the Newhaven lifeboat and transferred to hospital.

Despite an extensive search, two missing fishermen – Adam Harper, 26, and Robert Morley, 38 – are still missing. Coastguards confirmed yesterday afternoon that the search was called off at 2.30pm.

Brixham Scalloper Joanna C transformed after major refit in 2019

Former fisherman Tony Rowe, 40, owned the Joanna C vessel for around five years up until 2006. The boat was based in Brixham and Tony sold it when he decided to stop being a fisherman.

After hearing the boat had sunk and the search for the fisherman, Tony decided to launch an online fundraiser to raise funds for all those affected.

The initial target was £1,000 which was quickly smashed and as of 1.30pm today (November 23), the total raised has reached £14,404.

Candles, flowers and cards for the missing fisherman at the Man and Boy statue in Brixham

Tony said: “I’m raising money in aid of The Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen so they can distribute to help all those affected.

“Our prayers are with those directly involved and the wider community who all have been affected in some way.

“The Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen provide emergency support and practical, financial, emotional and spiritual support to fishermen and their families.”

In another post published yesterday after the initial target was passed, Tony added: “It has been an overwhelming day.

“Who would of thought in a few hours the community around the fishing industry and further afield would help to raise over £10,000.

“Thank you to all those who have donated and or shared this.”

Yesterday further details emerged about the boating incident.

Speaking with The Sun today, Mr Morley’s mum said her son is believed to have lost hold of a safety ring he’d been clinging to with his friend and skipper, Dave Bickerstaff, 34, who was rescued from the water.

Ms Woolford told The Sun: “Someone said something about a freak wave had hit it and knocked it over.”

She said Mr Bickerstaff survived, and told how he resuscitated her son after he went “blue”, but that he had lost him moments later as they clung to the life ring.

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She said: “Dave’s ok. He was the one that told us Robert went under and he got him back up, and he went down again and Dave lost him.

“He tried to give him mouth to mouth apparently and then got him back round, in the water.

“He did say he had the ring and Robert got cold really quick when he went in the water and then apparently he just saw him drift.

“He turned round and when he looked back Robert was gone.”

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