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Fife charity unveils star patrons as fishermen memorial edges closer

Former skipper Ronnie Hughes (69) and Wullie McNaughton (71) at Pittenweem harbour where the memorial to fishermen lost at sea is proposed to be located.
Former skipper Ronnie Hughes (69) and Wullie McNaughton (71) at Pittenweem harbour where the memorial to fishermen lost at sea is proposed to be located.

A group of East Neuk villagers say they are making huge strides in their campaign to honour the area’s maritime past.

Members of the Pittenweem Fishermen’s Memorial Association say they have raised more than a quarter of their fundraising total as they aim to install a permanent tribute to locals who have lost their lives at sea.

Having begun efforts in earnest last January, Ronnie Hughes from the group said that it was important that the East Neuk village had a permanent reminder of its roots in the fishing industry.

“I was a fisherman for 35 years and it is a hard life but a good life,” he said.

“But I’ve know 19 people who have lost their lives and that is why we need something tangible here where people can go and remember those people.

“There is a spot at the harbour where we would like to put a statue as we think it would look good down there.

“We think it will cost £65,000 but we have set a target of £70,000, just in case.”

The East Neuk has a rich fishing heritage and while today’s harbours no longer house the large boats of days gone by, Pittenweem was listed as Scotland’s 12th richest town in 1580.

However, the area has also known tragedy, with dozens of local fishermen having lost their lives in their employment out on the North Sea.

Earlier this week the association unveiled two patrons to assist with its work in the forms of local celebrity Edith Bowman and Lord Campbell of Pittenweem.

Edith, who is originally from Anstruther, said that the charity’s work was “very close to my heart”, adding: “My great Grandfather Alexander Lesley Bowman was a fisherman in Pittenweem and when he retired went on to mend nets.

“His father, William Bowman, was the auctioneer at the fish market in Pittenweem.

“I spent most of my weekends from age naught in Pittenweem with my grandfather, regularly spending time with family in and around the harbour.

“I look forward to lending my time to all the wonderful plans to support the PFMA.”

Lord Campbell added: “Many communities have similar memorials, and it is right and proper that Pittenweem should have the same.

“This is one of the last working fishing villages in Scotland, and it is steeped in history.”

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