Remembering Dave Gray

Posted on 19th May 2022 | in Community

Like so many others, we were very sorry to hear of the death of Dave Gray in March. Dave was the mainstay behind Puffin Cruises and will be a big miss around the Harbour. He died after a resurgence of cancer.

“Dave hadn’t been well for quite a while,” said his widow Betty. “He was nearly 82, but he was fighting it all the time. He was such a big part of the harbour, he lived for boats and the sea.”

Dave Gray of Amble’s Puffin Cruises

Dave was born and bred in Amble, but he and Betty began their married lives in Hauxley, with Dave fishing alongside Ebb Kerton. It was a hard life, the boat had to be dragged up the beach. It was difficult to make a living, so the couple moved to Amble, and Dave worked on the dredger Coquet Mouth for a number of years.

Then in 1969 the family started Puffin Cruises, taking generations of visitors and locals out to see the puffins, roseate terns and seals around Coquet Island. During that time came Freddie the Dolphin and Dave and his friend Gordon Easton began taking sightseers out as people came from all over the world to see Freddie and swim with him.

“Dave was very down to earth,” said Betty. “He would say what he thought. If he didn’t like something, he would comment on it. He was well-liked at the Harbour Commissioners. He spoke for the fishermen.”

Dave leaves behind his wife Betty, daughter Carol, son David, grandsons Steven and Conor, granddaughter Shannon and great-grandson Brodie.

Steven said “He’s a big miss. He’s played a massive part in my life as a Grandad. It’s through him I have a career working at sea in Trinity House the lighthouse authority. I’d call him every week from the ship and tell him where we were and what lighthouses and harbours I had been to that week. Some of the best memories with him are just simply taking the boats off together doing boat trips around Coquet Island.”

Maurice Burnett, Chairman of Warkworth Harbour Commission said “Dave Gray was a long-standing, well respected member of the board of WHC. He joined as a Commissioner on 14 May 1990 and was regarded highly, thanks to his commitment to WHC and his regular attendances at meetings. Dave’s deep and keen interest in harbour life at Amble and daily presence on the quays made his contributions to the Commission invaluable. We will miss him deeply.”

After Dave’s death, the family received condolences from all around the world. So many read and commented on their Facebook page, it crashed.

Puffin Cruises will carry on as Dave would have wanted. “We lost the mainstay,” said Betty, “but David and Steven are going to keep the business going.”

Anna Williams

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