'He was always joking' - Tributes paid to lifelong fisherman
- Credit: Supplied by the family
He was always ready with a smile and a joke and he loved the sea until his final days.
Tributes have been paid to Christopher Craske, a lifelong Cromer crab fisherman and decorated lifeboatman who has died aged 74.
His widow, Fiona Craske, 67, said: "He was always joking and laughing right up until the end and that's how we want to remember him. He was very strong-willed and a brave man."
Mr Craske lived his early years at Chesterfield Cottages - a Cromer road - and was the youngest of five children.
He left school aged 15, when he started his fishing career on a boat belonging to Kelly Harrison.
Mr Craske never owned a vessel of his own but always worked as a 'share fisherman' - owning part of the catch of whoever he went to sea with.
He also fished with Richard Davies and Billy Davies, who, along with Mr Harrison, Mrs Craske described as "three of the most important people in his life".
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Mr and Mrs Craske met when she was five and he was 10. They were married at Cromer Parish Church in 1980 and had three children, Nicola, who died aged 14 months, James, now 35, and Victoria, 38.
Their grandchildren are George, 18, William, 16, Lewis, 13 and Nicola, nine.
Mr Craske joined Cromer's RNLI station when he was 17 and he was a lifeboatman for 39-and-a-half years, until a heart attack forced him to quit in 1999.
He crewed both the station's inshore and off-shore lifeboats, and in 1981 he received an award - along with crewmate Frank Muirhead - for the rescue of two local fishermen.
For a couple of years Mr Craske worked on ships supplying offshore gas rigs, but he soon returned to the fisherman's life.
Mrs Craske said: "His love of the beach and crab fishing was a better deal as far as he was concerned, and he wanted to be with his family."
The couple bought a house on Henry Blogg Road 37 years ago - it and the Chesterfield Cottages home were the only places Mr Craske ever lived.
Mr Craske was also into sea shanties, and he sang as part of the Sheringham Shantymen and also, for a few years, the Cromer Smugglers.
After his heart attack, Mrs Craske said they were told he would probably only have a couple of years left, so they were thankful he lived 21 more.
Victoria's husband, Darron Wright, provided a lot of support in Mr Craske's later years, including make a trailer so they could easily transport his wheelchair when they went on holiday.
Over the years they enjoyed getaways to Wales, Cornwall and Yorkshire. "We'd never go inland," Mrs Craske said. "Even on holiday, it would always have to be by the sea."
In their retirement the couple managed a few trips abroad, including to Egypt and the Caribbean.
John Davies, North Norfolk Fisherman's Society chairman and former Cromer Lifeboat coxswain, said Mr Craske had served the RNLI well and would be well remembered by the fishing community.
He said: "He was always jolly and jovial and his heart was always about the sea. Even in his latter years he would come down and see how we were getting on. He loved being a part of it and a part of the community."
Mrs Craske said the family wanted to thank everyone who had sent them flowers and messages, as well as the medics that looked after her husband, including Dr Oliver at Cromer Surgery and the team at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
"We were lucky that we were able to be with him right up until the end, which was wonderful," she said.
Mrs Craske said, in keeping with her husband's wishes, the family would not have a funeral for him. Instead when he is to be cremated at Cromer Crematorium they would meet at Cromer Pier and look over the town and the sea, his favourite place in the world.