A boat which will save many lives on York’s rivers has been named in memory of a young man who was an ‘absolute joy’.
Sonny Ferry, from Rutland, was 19 when he died after entering the River Ouse following a night out in York in April 2019.
Following two days of searching, the York Rescue Boat crew located his body near Blue Bridge.
The following week Kate and Steve Ferry, Sonny’s parents, met with some of the team who took part in the search to thank them and pledged to buy a new lifeboat.
Their Sunshine Campaign raised an amazing £45K for a high-spec patrol and rescue boat. And today Kate and Steve joined other members of Sonny’s family, York Rescue Boat volunteers and the Lord Mayor of York Cllr David Carr to officially name the new vessel Spirit of Sonny.
In a ceremony next to the Blue Bridge, Kate poured champagne on the bow as the gathering applauded.
“It’s a huge deal,” Kate told YorkMix. “It feels like we’ve reached a huge milestone in the grieving process.
“The Sunshine Campaign has given my family and friends an excuse to do something joyful in Sonny’s memory to raise funds for an amazing team of volunteers.”
She said Sonny was a very special young man. “He didn’t walk anywhere, Sonny – he danced.
“He was a bit like Tigger in 19-year-old form, and he was an absolute joy.
“And we wanted the Sunshine Campaign to reflect that.
“When I see the boat, it’s like tangible evidence of the joy and the kindness and the effort that people have put in, in the memory of our boy.”
Steve added: “It is a wonderful thing. If one life is saved, and one family don’t have to go through what we’ve done, it was all worth it.”
David Wilson of York Rescue Boat said Spirit of Sonny was “a brilliant boat. It was designed and fitted out to our specifications.
“This is our patrol boat. So it’s the boat we’re going to be out in on Friday and Saturday nights, it’s the boat we’re going to be responding to incidents in.”
As official patrons of York Rescue Boat, YorkMix was thrilled to be at the naming ceremony today.