A heartbroken mum is making a Mother’s Day wish to see a life-saving boat take to the waters around the Wear.
Ann Cantle’s son Andrew was killed when the plane he was co-piloting crashed in Cork, Ireland, six years ago.
Ann, 62, is now appealing to people in Sunderland to help a fundraising appeal get over the line this month.
The mum, whose son was a regular volunteer with the RNLI, is calling on Wearsiders to help her raise the final £7,000 needed to launch the Andy Cantle, a new RNLI vessel that will support the life-saving efforts of the charity’s team of volunteers.
The team at the RNLI, based in Roker, have already raised £33,000, towards their final target, which will allow them to purchase the D class in-shore lifeboat to be named in Andrew’s honour.
The vital service that the RNLI provides was highlighted when teenager Liam Hall died last August when he and pals got into difficulty in water off Sunderland seafront.
RNLI crews managed to find Liam, 17, but he could not be saved despite the best efforts of the emergency services.
Ann, who has lived in Sunderland all of her life, said: “To lose a son is the most painful thing a mother can ever go through.
“However, I am tremendously proud of Andrew’s work during his life with the RNLI, so it would be wonderful to think that his memory could live on, and that his loss could have helped to make something possible that will save many lives.”
She added: “Only last year we saw lives lost in open water in this part of the world.
“Andrew was such a committed volunteer and it would be such a great legacy if we were able to raise the final £7,000 to buy a new vessel that will save lives, and prevent any other mums in Sunderland losing their child.”
Andrew, who was just 27 when he died, joined Sunderland RNLI in 2000 and spent eight years at the station, helping to rescue more than 65 people during his time there.
He became involved after being inspired when he worked towards his Duke of Edinburgh award.
While the charity would welcome donations, Ann is asking people to buy a fundraising album that features the work of local musicians.
City businesses Rough Diamond Entertainment, Illusions Sunderland and Martinos Restaurant Group have also given their support free of charge to produce a CD from which 100% of the proceeds will go towards the vessel.
The CD was initially recorded to promote the vibrant and upcoming music scene in Sunderland and the Harbour View Speakeasy, which takes place at the Harbour View Pub in Roker every Thursday night.
The idea to use money raised from the sale of the CD to the Andy Cantle Forever by the Sea Fund, came from RNLI volunteer Andy McGill, who is one of the performers whose voice features on the album.
Andy said: “We are so lucky to have such a dedicated team of volunteers and there is such a sense of comradeship, so the whole team felt it when Andy passed away.
“We know just how passionate Andy was about his work with us, and we are absolutely determined to get this appeal over the line and see Andy Cantle take to the water once more.”
CDs are on sale at The Harbour View Pub and there are also limited copies at Seldon’s Leisureworld in Seaburn.
Alternatively, contact Sunderland RNLI on Facebook.