Mother of missing Shetland ferry man makes appeal

Craig Townsley went missing while travelling on a ferry from Shetland. Picture: submitted
Craig Townsley went missing while travelling on a ferry from Shetland. Picture: submitted
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The heartbroken mother of a man who is missing at sea after falling off a ferry spoke for the first time yesterday about the last time she saw him alive.

Craig Townsley, 22, of Shetland, went missing in the early hours of Monday last week while travelling on NorthLink Ferries’ Hjaltland ferry from Shetland to Aberdeen.

The alarm was raised by mum Jacqueline and a 200sq-mile air, sea and land search involving 20 vessels was launched between Aberdeen and Peterhead, but he has yet to be found.

The search was called off later that day, but Jacqueline, 50, who was on board the ferry at the time, still hopes he’ll be found alive.

She said: “We are just looking to find out any news at this stage.

“Now, the best scenario is just to find him. We are all in limbo just waiting for news.”

Craig moved to Shetland from Saltcoats, North Ayrshire, with his mother and her partner, Mel Burrows, and was working as a cleaner on the Sullom Voe oil terminal.

He was on board the Hjaltland for a 14-hour overnight journey back to the mainland with Jacqueline and Mel.

Jacqueline said: “We had a cabin together because the ferry journey was overnight.

“After having something to eat, we went back to the cabin and we were just talking most of the night.

“Then, a bit before 3.30am he said he was going out for some fresh air and that was it.

“That was the last I saw of him.”

Craig was last seen sitting on a bench by a security staff member at about 3.30am, but nobody realised he had disappeared as Jacqueline had fallen asleep when her son went outside.

After noticing his bed was empty at 5.50am, she went looking for him, but with no sign, she raised the alarm at 6.30am.

There have still be no reported sightings of Craig and now his family are being asked to send photographs of him to Norway and the Netherlands as the search widens for him.

Craig’s siblings said they were desperately missing their brother, who was a “comedian” and “life and soul of the party”.

His sister Claire Kerr, 28, of Ardrossan, North Ayrshire, said: “Craig really was the life and soul of the party - he loved dancing and he was even break-dancing at my wedding.”

Brother Alan added: “He was a big Arsenal fan and he even had a Freddie Ljungberg-style Mohawk one point.

“He loved pool too and he was such a laugh - just a total comedian and that’s what he’ll be missed for.”

Jacqueline said they will retain hope of seeing Craig alive again, although she claimed the search has been made even harder by poor communication from the police.

She said: “We have to keep phoning them for updates. We haven’t experienced anything like this before so we don’t know what to do or what is going on.

“We don’t have a liaison officer or anyone letting us know what is going on.”

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “No set of circumstances are the same and each incident will involve appropriate liaison and contact with the family, which has been provided in this case.”