Gary ‘Corney’ Cornelius died in hospital after being recovered from the sea at Hastings having fallen from a commercial fishing boat on July 29 at about 10am.
Today (Friday, August 27), his funeral was held at All Saints Church, at 10.30am, followed by a procession down All Saints Street to Winkle Island.
Hundreds of people, many dressed in blue as his family requested, turned out to line the streets and take part in a minute’s applause before his wake, which was held at East Sussex Angling Club, adjacent to Lifeboat House.
In the church, there was only standing room available, with many more people waiting outside during the service.
Jonathan Mendenhall spoke of how Gary was born at Fern Bank Maternity Home in the Old Town and paid tribute to his laid back and easy going nature, making reference to the fact he was a life-long Chelsea supporter.
Jonathan said Gary’s name would be added to the role of honour, at the Fisherman’s Museum, to those Hastings fishermen who had been lost. He referred to a number of them including Jimmy Read, the Boy Ashore who died on the fishing beach during the 1987 hurricane.
Gary’s coffin, draped in a Chelsea flag, was taken out of the church to Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowing in the Wind’.
During family tributes, Gary’s family made mention of how dangerous the fishing industry could be and chose a song by The Fishwives Choir – When the Boat Comes In – to be played during his service.
His wake took place at the East Hastings Sea Angling Club at the Stade. A large TV at the club showed pictures and videos of Corney, taken throughout his life.
Jonathan later said: “Corney always had a twinkle in his eye.”
After Gary’s death, Glenn Veness, a close friend, paid tribute to him and said: “I was very saddened to hear of the passing of Gary ‘Corney’ Cornelius. He epitomised the fishermen with his sense of humour combined with his work ethic.
“I had the pleasure of sitting on the beach with Corney, drinking in the Nelson and playing football together.
“I sat with him outside Obie’s fishing hut just two weeks ago. I hadn’t seen him for a year or more, so we had a good chat.
“He always made me laugh. He reminded me of when we played football for the London Trader and how I always had my boots in a Tesco’s carrier bag. He recalled how once for an evening game at Battle I opened my Tescos carrier bag, only to find a tin of beans, an onion and some potatoes! I ended up spraying my Pimms all over his chest!
“I feel very lucky, if that’s the right word, to have this as a final memory of a dear friend.”