Sadly, the loss of the Cheeki Rafiki in May means that this will no longer happen, but Andrew’s friends are determined to carry on as a tribute to him and the other men who were lost: Paul Goslin, Steve Warren and James Male.
The fundraising trio took to the water for the first time this weekend, in Southampton on a training weekend.
Nicky Evans, a sign language interpreter from London, was the person who set up a petition calling on the US Coastguard to resume the search for the Cheeki Rafiki crew. The petition was signed by 243,095 people, helping galvanise public support for the missing men.
Nicky said: ‘The amount of public support that the petition, and subsequently the fundraising for the RNLI, has received has been overwhelming. Reading a lot of the comments and seeing how much Andrew was loved has been very emotional but has motivated us to keep momentum up. Having something so horrendous happen we just wanted to do some good and we picked the RNLI because they are the charity that saves lives at sea.’
Nicky, Roger and Kate had sailed with Andrew many times, including taking part in the famous Fastnet Race last year on the Cheeki Rafiki. Their fundraising page has already made over £25,000.
Clare McCulloch, Fundraising Manager from the RNLI said: ‘Our volunteer crews depend on donations from our generous supporters so we’re really grateful to everyone who has donated and to the efforts of Nicky, Kate and Roger. The amount raised so far could help train 18 volunteer lifeboat crew or buy around 500 new pairs of yellow wellies for them; essential kit that means they can be ready to help anyone getting into difficulties on the water.’
Roger Swift, a retired police officer from Kent, said today: “We wanted to do the Round Britain and Ireland Race in memory of Andy who should have been with us.
“It will be a bittersweet occasion for us. Even just getting together to train for the first time next weekend will be bittersweet. Cheeki Rafiki should have been back in her home port of Southampton and we should have been out training on her with Andy. I think it will be particularly hard for Nicky as when we last sailed with Andy she was very ill and he really looked after her.
“We are just overwhelmed, humbled really, by how much people have donated already. It’s something we will really be thinking about when we set off. We are looking forward to doing this for Andy and hopefully raising even more.”
Roger added: “The RNLI is the most obvious charity under the circumstances; we are all passionate believers in the RNLI tradition of lifesaving.
“I remember from the Fastnet race, that when you are out on a boat in the middle of the night and the weather’s bad, it’s a very comforting thought knowing that the RNLI are not that far away should you need help.
“When we are taking part in the Round Britain and Ireland Race, and we’re out on the West Coast of Ireland or up round the Shetlands, we will know the RNLI is out there too.”
Along with the fundraising started by Andrew’s sailing friends, an RNLI tribute fund has been set up by the families of the Cheeki Rafiki crew. They want to raise money to promote the work of the RNLI and to fund personal locator beacons for RNLI crew.
This tribute fund will remain online indefinitely, as an on-going memorial for the men. Other fundraising challenges have also been started to collect funds for it. Adele Miller, partner of James Male, will be abseiling the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth.
Cressida Goslin, wife of Paul Goslin, said: “I’m grateful to all those ensuring that Paul, James, Steve and Andy are not forgotten. We’ve set up our own Forever by the Sea fund to raise money for the RNLI in memory of our loved ones. Others, like Nicky Evans and her Round Britain and Ireland crew, are also raising money for the RNLI in their memory.
“We’ve been overwhelmed with people’s responses to the loss of the Cheeki Rafiki, both during the search and now with people donating so generously. It means a great deal to us and we’d like to say thank you to everyone for their efforts.”
Notes to Editors
RNLI fundraisers after completing first weekend’s training for Round Britain and Ireland Race in memory of lost Cheeki Rafiki sailors.
Kate Dawson (blue jacket), Nicky Evans (pink top), Roger Swift, Aaron Gent (Portsmouth RNLI lifeboat crew member).
Please credit Will Ablett.
Round Britain and Ireland Race fundraising page: http://www.justgiving.com/Cheekirafiki
RNLI Tribute Fund: https://rnli.tributefunds.com/fund/Cheeki+Rafiki
RNLI Media Contact
Liz Ablett 08901 877260 / 01202 336789 email@example.com