THE family of a Filipino crew member lost in last week’s fishing tragedy have paid tribute to their ‘breadwinner’ who worked hard at sea to send money home.
A ‘generous’ man with ‘big dreams’, Larry Simyunn was also the family’s ‘hard-working hero’, according to his aunt Gigi Skye.
Mr Simyunn was one of three fishermen who died after the L’Ecume II collided with Condor’s Commodore Goodwill off the west coast last Thursday morning, along with father of two Michael Michieli and Jervis Baligat – also from the Philippines. Two bodies have since been found at the site of the trawler, although their identities have not yet been confirmed.
Ms Skye said: ‘His entire life, Larry has always had such a deep love for his family. He was selflessly driven, devoting everything he had to the people he loved most.’
A Justgiving appeal has been launched in Jersey by Mr Michieli’s daughter Rebecca to raise funds for the families of the two crew, which had last night topped £95,000 after initially setting a target of £3,000.
The pair would spend nine months at a time working with Mr Michieli, according to his daughter, who wrote in the appeal that they sent a ‘good portion of the money they made to their families back home’.
She said that her family would like to do ‘as much as we can for Larry and Jervis’, adding: ‘We know money will never bring them back but we can at least take some of the stress away and allow them time to grieve without the burden of financial troubles.’
Ms Skye said the difference these donations would make to the bereaved families was ‘indescribably meaningful’.
‘Though I’m many miles away, I’m still grateful beyond words,’ she added.
Ms Skye described her nephew as a ‘bright-eyed, warm-hearted, fun-loving soul’ with an ‘undeterred enthusiasm to tackle whatever challenges life brought’. This was the ‘very quality that eventually drew him away from his beloved family and onto dangerous work environments’, she said.
‘He was the definition of courage; a very hard-working hero for his entire family.’
Ms Skye explained how her nephew was determined to save enough money to support his ailing father and to provide an education for his nieces, nephews, and eventually himself. He had plans to pursue carpentry or masonry, and then to someday settle down and have a family of his own, she said.
She added: ‘Larry stepped up to the call of being the breadwinner of the family. He was a faithful and loving son, a generous brother and uncle, and a thoughtful friend to many.’
His life was not always easy, after he suffered devastating losses during the pandemic, losing his beloved mother to ovarian cancer and his brother to a terminal illness just months apart.
Ms Skye paid tribute to how her nephew always carried on, despite the difficulties he faced.
She said: ‘I’m incredibly touched at the sight of all the donations that the community has put together in the victims’ honour, and the amount of support shown by all the donors has been overwhelming in a positive way.
‘I don’t personally know much about how the funds will be allocated, but I find comfort in the fact that Larry’s immediate family and those that relied on him will have access to such potential for healthcare and education.’
She added: ‘Through all of his hardships and heartaches, Larry persevered and continued to hold onto the faith that life would improve, that through his life’s honest work he could cultivate change if he continued to hope for a better future.
‘Larry’s happiness was to provide. His family’s prosperity was his greatest dream. A fearless yet gentle soul, Larry was dearly loved and will be profoundly missed.’
lTo donate to the fundraiser, Islanders can visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/michieli.