RNLI crews are set to gather tomorrow to mark the 50th anniversary of a lifeboat disaster which claimed the lives of nine men.
Just before 5.30pm on November 17, 1962, all five crew members onboard the Seaham lifeboat George Elmy lost their lives when it was capsized by two huge waves.
The crew was just 30 yards from Seaham Harbour after rescuing four fishermen and a nine-year-old boy from the fishing boat Economy which got into trouble in stormy seas off Dawdon Colliery.
The boy, David Burrell, and three of the fishermen – Gordon Burrell, George Firth and Joseph Kennedy – also died.
The only survivor was David’s father Donald, who was washed ashore clinging to the propeller shafts of the upturned lifeboat.
The five members of the lifeboat crew – John Miller, Frederick Gippert, Arthur L. Brown, James Farrington and Arthur Brown – are among the 806 people who feature on the RNLI Memorial located outside the RNLI College in Poole.
And tomorrow RNLI volunteers from Sunderland, Tynemouth and Hartlepool, – along with family members of both the lifeboat crew and the fishermen will come together for a memorial service at Seaham harbour.
Paul Nicholson, senior helmsman at Sunderland RNLI said: “It will be a very emotional but important moment for the current RNLI volunteers to join the families to remember those who were lost at sea 50 years ago during that fateful night at Seaham Harbour.”