A well-respected retired HM Coastguard Officer, who dedicated his life to the sea and his family, has died aged 73. 

From rescuing crew from a stricken trawler to raising his three stepchildren, Mario Siano has been described as a “dedicated, loving, and funny man” who cared deeply about his loved ones and work colleagues. 

Mario Francesco Siano was born on February 4, 1945, in Earlham, Norwich, to parents Giovanni and Patricia Siano.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: Mario Siano (left) with his father, Giovanni, and sister, Teresa - Picture: Courtesy of familyMario Siano (left) with his father, Giovanni, and sister, Teresa - Picture: Courtesy of family (Image: Courtesy of family)

Giovanni was an Italian prisoner of war at Mousehold during the Second World War when he met his future wife, land-girl Pat, who went on to become a long-serving member of the Mousehold Heath Defenders. 

Mario, who had a younger sister, Teresa, attended Norwich's Thomas Moore Catholic School, but his dream was always to go to sea.  

He happily began his working life as a trawler-man on board the Silverfish, based at Lowestoft, and was soon conducting his first sea rescue when he saved five men from the sinking trawler, Tropic Shore, 40 miles off Cromer.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: Mario Siano playing the guitar - Picture: Courtesy of familyMario Siano playing the guitar - Picture: Courtesy of family (Image: Courtesy of family)

Being a keen guitar player and singer, Mario would take his guitar with him on his trips out to sea and teach the deck hands Bob Dylan classics.  

He went on to gain his Skipper’s Certificate before meeting his future wife Christine, who lived next door to him on Mousehold Avenue with her family.

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The couple married in 1979, and Mario quickly became a dedicated stepfather to Sally, Lisa, and Kevin.  

Mario decided to apply to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the family were relocated to Tynemouth, in Tyne and Wear. Here he began a long and esteemed career as an HM Coastguard Officer.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: Mario Siano - Courtesy of familyMario Siano - Courtesy of family (Image: Courtesy of family)

Following this, the family moved back to Norfolk to Gorleston, near Great Yarmouth, and lived there for several years before he and Christine settled in Norwich to be closer to their family.  

His stepdaughter, Sally Barker, explained that although he was extremely humble, he was very well thought of throughout the maritime industry. 

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“Many of the lifeboats knew him, including those at Humber HQ,” she said.  

She added that former colleagues had commented that he was "a consummate professional and a true legend" and that many people owed their lives to him and his colleagues. 

Great Yarmouth Mercury: Mario Siano loved to fish - Picture: Courtesy of familyMario Siano loved to fish - Picture: Courtesy of family (Image: Courtesy of family)

He was also known for his calm reassuring voice when conducting rescue operations at sea and for his “wicked sense of humour”. 

She added that he was "a very intelligent man who would quietly work on his inventions to help with search and rescue operations” and that he had patented several devices.  

He loved fishing and was entered into the Hardy Hall of Fame in October 1979 for a capture from the river Wensum of a 6lb 5.5oz brown trout with his Richard Walker Avon rod.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: The Silverfish - Courtesy of familyThe Silverfish - Courtesy of family (Image: Courtesy of family)

Later in life, he wrote a book about his days at sea on board Silverfish, which remained his favourite trawler.

He also enjoyed pottering around at home and in his garden, always with a cigarette in his mouth, contemplating his next project. 

And he adored spending time with his step-grandchildren, who affectionately nicknamed him “Grumps”, and his great-nephews, Ethan and Rueben. 

Mrs Barker added: “He helped us all out over the years and was always there on the other end of the phone whenever we needed him." 

Following a diagnosis of cancer, Mario died at home on December 30, 2022.  

His funeral took place on January 24 at St Mary and St Margaret Church in Sprowston, followed by a committal at Sprowston Cemetery. 

Donations were raised in tribute for the Seaman’s Mission. 

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