Lifeboat donation in memory of ‘Sammy, the Geordie diver’

Campbeltown RNLI shop volunteer Marjorie Leighton, left, receiving the £400 donation at Allan Sample's memorial bench at Pennyseorach. Photograph: RNLI/Marjorie Leighton.
Campbeltown RNLI shop volunteer Marjorie Leighton, left, receiving the £400 donation at Allan Sample's memorial bench at Pennyseorach. Photograph: RNLI/Marjorie Leighton.

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The family and friends of a diver who suffered a fatal heart attack in Campbeltown Loch have made a generous donation to the town’s RNLI.

Campbeltown Lifeboat Station has received £400 in memory of Allan Sample, a lover of the town and frequent visitor to the area.

Allan, known as Sammy, started visiting Campbeltown in the late 1970s with his friend Geoff Cobb, who had family in the region.

He was interested in all aspects of maritime shipping and was a keen diver, especially around shipwrecks.

He became friends with Archie McArthur, also known as Bailey, who was a member of Campbeltown Lifeboat Station and, through him, Sammy started to learn more about wrecks in the area and where they may be located.

Allan Sample diving near Sanda Island. Photograph: RNLI/Marjorie Leighton.
Allan Sample diving near Sanda Island. Photograph: RNLI/Marjorie Leighton.

Sammy continued to visit Kintyre, where he would dive and locate wrecks. He was a member of the Ashington Sub Aqua Club and, in the early 1990s, he brought 12 to 15 members of the club with him.

The group would have annual week-long diving visits in May or June and, in later years, would time visits to coincide with the Mull of Kintyre Music Festival.

Sammy’s love of diving and Campbeltown extended to his talent as an artist, and he painted numerous pictures of ships, one of which is in the Dellwood Hotel, with another in the Davaar Bar before it closed.

One of Sammy's paintings. Photograph: RNLI/Marjorie Leighton.
One of Sammy’s paintings. Photograph: RNLI/Marjorie Leighton.

When in Campbeltown, the Ashington boys/Geordie divers, as they became known, teamed up with Donald Fairgray, Calum Buchanan and the Campbeltown Sub Aqua Club searching for more wrecks and treasure.

They based themselves at first in Campbeltown, then at Dunaverty and, in recent years, at Pennyseorach Farm with fellow divers Terry and Linda Smith, where they had views over their favourite dive sites.

It was in Campbeltown Loch last year that Sammy suffered a fatal heart attack while diving The Breda.

At this most devastating time, his fellow divers were supported by Campbeltown lifeboat crew, with Sammy’s family deciding to share any donations made at his funeral between his local Newbiggin Lifeboat Station and Campbeltown Lifeboat Station, as the RNLI was a cause very close to his heart.

Sammy was a much-respected diver, friend and ‘father figure’, not only to his fellow Geordie divers, but to many people in Campbeltown who knew him.

His family visited Campbeltown not long after the tragedy and were overwhelmed by the kindness shown to them and realised why Sammy loved the town so much.

His fellow divers have since erected a memorial bench at Pennyseorach and it was there that the cheque presentation to the lifeboat took place.

Ruaridh McAulay, Campbeltown RNLI coxswain, said: ‘Once again, all at Campbeltown Lifeboat Station would like to pass on our deepest condolences to Mr Sample’s family.

‘We would like to thank everyone involved in raising this incredible sum of money and choosing to donate it to the RNLI Campbeltown Lifeboat Station.

‘Without donations like this, we could not continue with our role of saving lives at sea.’