RNLI fundraising in tribute to the Cheeki Rafiki crew tops £21,000 in first 24 hours

Friends
of Andrew Bridge, the 21-year-old skipper of the lost yacht Cheeki Rafiki, are
setting sail in his memory.

Their efforts will also be boosting the coffers of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and
donations to their fundraising page reached £20,000 in their first 24
hours of fundraising.


Sailors
Nicky Evans, Roger Swift and Kate Dawes were due to take part in the Sevenstar
Round Britain and Ireland Race this August on the Cheeki Rafiki with Andrew.


Sadly,
the loss of the Cheeki Rafiki in May means that this will no longer happen, but
Andrew’s friends are determined to carry on as a tribute to him and the other
men who were lost: Paul Goslin, Steve Warren and James Male.


Nicky
Evans, a sign language interpreter from London, was the person who set up a
petition calling on the US Coastguard to resume the search for the Cheeki
Rafiki
crew. The petition was signed by 243,095 people, helping galvanise
public support for the missing men.


Nicky,
Roger and Kate had sailed with Andrew many times, including taking part in the
famous Fastnet Race last year on the Cheeki Rafiki.


Roger
Swift, a retired police officer from Kent, said: ‘We wanted to do the
Round Britain and Ireland Race in memory of Andy who should have been with us.


‘It
will be a bittersweet occasion for us. Even just getting together to train for
the first time next weekend will be bittersweet. Cheeki Rafiki should have been
back in her home port of Southampton and we should have been out training on
her with Andy. I think it will be particularly hard for Nicky as when we last
sailed with Andy she was very ill and he really looked after her.


‘We
are just overwhelmed, humbled really, by how much people have donated already.
It’s something we will really be thinking about when we set off. We are looking
forward to doing this for Andy and hopefully raising even more.’

Roger
added: ‘The RNLI is the most obvious charity under the circumstances; we are
all passionate believers in the RNLI tradition of lifesaving.


‘I
remember from the Fastnet race, that when you are out on a boat in the middle
of the night and the weather’s bad, it’s a very comforting thought knowing that
the RNLI are not that far away should you need help.


‘When
we are taking part in the Round Britain and Ireland Race, and we’re out on the
West Coast of Ireland or up round the Shetlands, we will know the RNLI is out
there too.’


Along
with the fundraising started by Andrew’s sailing friends, an RNLI tribute fund
has been set up by the families of the Cheeki Rafiki crew. They want to raise
money to promote the work of the RNLI and to fund personal locator beacons for
RNLI crew. 

Tribute fund


This
tribute fund will remain online indefinitely, as an on-going memorial for the
men. Other fundraising challenges have also been started to collect funds for
it. Adele Miller, partner of James Male, will be abseiling the Spinnaker Tower
in Portsmouth.


Cressida
Goslin, wife of Paul Goslin, said: ‘I’m grateful to all those ensuring that
Paul, James, Steve and Andy are not forgotten. We’ve set up our own Forever by
the Sea fund to raise money for the RNLI in memory of our loved ones. Others,
like Nicky Evans and her Round Britain and Ireland crew, are also raising money
for the RNLI in their memory.


‘We’ve
been overwhelmed with people’s responses to the loss of the Cheeki Rafiki, both
during the search and now with people donating so generously. It means a great
deal to us and we’d like to say thank you to everyone for their efforts.’

Round
Britain and Ireland Race fundraising page:
http://www.justgiving.com/Cheekirafiki


RNLI
Tribute Fund:
https://rnli.tributefunds.com/fund/Cheeki+Rafiki

Pictures: Crew of the Cheeki Rafiki at the end of the 2013 Fastnet Race. Andrew Bridge on far right; Roger Swift in yellow; Kate Dawes on the left in blue and Nicky Evans on the right in red. Credit: Roger Swift.

The missing Cheeki Rafiki crew; the yacht; the upturned hull in the Atlantic Ocean.