All of Barra’s registered solo fishermen have now been provided with Personal Locator Beacons to help keep them safe at sea, thanks to a Western Isles based fundraising group, Motivated by Mervyn.

The Motivated by Mervyn group was set up in memory of Iain Mervyn Macleod, who was lost at sea off Great Bernera in 2013. Since 2015 his family have been raising funds for safety equipment for solo fishermen, working closely with the Western Isles Fishermen’s Association, the UK Coastguard and Lews Castle College.

This week (Tuesday August 21st) they were able to announce that every registered solo fisherman in the Western Isles now has a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) which can send a distress signal triggering an emergency response if they are in distress. 17 Barra fishermen and 16 in North and South Uist are among those who’ve received the pocket-sized lifesaver.

Mervyn’s wife Norma said: “People have been very generous and we really wanted to thank them and let them know how their money has been spent. Our main aim was to help protect solo fishermen because the more of them who have PLBs, the more likely that help will arrive in time if they get into trouble.”

Nearly £22,000 has been raised and spent on 74 PLBs, each of which is allocated by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to a registered fisherman. That means that every PLB is registered to one particular user and, if activated, immediately triggers MCA HQ in Southampton to call the nearest Coastguard response team.

Now Norma and her family are working with WI Fishermen’s Association to identify the next area of safety work – whether that may be on life-jackets or providing PLBs to two-man fishing vessels. The money raised from now on will form the starting point for the next wave of a campaign that could literally be a lifesaver for fishermen.