Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Brave fishermen honoured

Four fishermen have been presented with bravery awards for defying severe storms while trying to rescue the grieving head of a tragic family.

The four men were honoured by the Royal Humane Society for their bid to rescue Paul Bogues, who had been struck by a powerful wave at Ardglass and drowned while vainly looking for the body of his missing son.

Conor Bogues was lost at sea in January 2006 when the trawler he worked on, The Greenhill, sank. The father-of-two's body has never been recovered.

Another crew member, Donal Graham, also drowned.

Almost a year later, Conor's heartbroken father was spotted at Ardglass Harbour during a winter storm.

His family said they believed Paul Bogues had travelled down from Belfast hoping his son's body would be found.

He asked nearby fishermen if they had seen "any sign of Conor".

Kenneth McGowan, one of the fishermen honoured for bravery, told Paul Bogues' inquest the grieving dad had climbed up to the top of the harbour wall.

As fishermen yelled for him to step down, he was struck by a wave and knocked down 15 feet.

Mr McGowan and Hadyn Wills, aided by Jason Parker and Michael Pleasance, pulled him from the wall in spite of danger to themselves. But Mr Bogues drowned before they reached him. The four men were presented with their awards by Fisheries Minister Michelle Gildernew during a ceremony at Stormont.

Members of the Bogues family were there to witness the presentation.

Ms Gildernew said: "It was a great pleasure to present these awards to exceptional people who have set a tremendous example that inspires us all.

"They showed great courage and bravery in the face of atrocious weather conditions and they richly deserved their awards. Our thoughts were also with Bogues and Gibson families as we remembered the tragic loss of not only of Paul, but also his son Conor Bogues and Donal Gibson. It was good to see the Bogues family here and I was glad to have the opportunity to speak with them."

Kenneth Magowan was awarded the Royal Humane Society's Testimonial on Vellum for "putting himself in considerable danger in an attempt to save life" .

Hadyn Wills was awarded a Testimonial on Parchment "for putting himself in danger to save life".

Jason Parker and Michael Pleasance were awarded Certificates of Commendation for " practical assistance during an attempt to save life".

The skipper of the Greenhill, Conrad Zych (28), who survived the sinking, was recently charged with causing the death of his two crew members.