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Helicopter crash victims remembered 20 years on from tragedy

Anthony Carroll reports
17th July 2022

helicopter crash victims 2002

Nine of the 11 men who died in the helicopter crash. David Graves, Geoffrey Bispham, Douglas Learwood, Philip Stone, Philip Mark Wade, David Graves, Kevin Taylor, Philip Dearden, and Angus McArthur. - Credit: Archant Library

The lives of 11 men who died after a helicopter crashed into the North Sea off Great Yarmouth 20 years have been remembered at a church service

On July 16, 2002 a Sikorsky helicopter carrying offshore workers crashed 25 miles off the town


Rev Peter Paine pays tribute to the 11 men who lost their lives - Credit: Anthony Carroll

Twenty years to the day a memorial service was held at Great Yarmouth Minster. The service saw 11 candles lit for each of the men who lost their lives. The candles were lit next to a glass porch memorial to the 11 men. The men who died were Stewart Coggon, Philip Stone, Kevin Taylor, Dennis Kelleher, Angus MacArthur, Geoffrey Bispham, David Graves, Douglas Learwood, Paul Francis, Philip Mark Wade, and Philip Dearden
Saturday afternoon's service was led by Rev Canon Simon Ward


Rev Canon Simon Ward paid tribute to the 11 men who lost their lives - Credit: Anthony Carroll

Rev Ward said: the lighting of candles helped grieving people express their loss. It helps to articulate the words that we sometimes struggle to form"


Great Yarmouth Minster held a memorial service - Credit: Anthony Carroll

"I imagine that candles were lit in this church and many other places 20 years ago when news of this tragedy became known.  The deaths made a huge impact on the town and the wider community of East Anglia. The ripples were felt wide beyond this region as well" said Rev Peter Paine, who was port chaplain at the time of the crash and had provided solace to families and colleagues


A candle is lit for one of the 11 men who perished in the crash - Credit: Anthony Carroll

He took part in the Saturday service and invited the mayor of the borough Graham Plant to light the first candle in memory of the victims. The 11 main candles were then lit, including by family members. The Bristow Sikorsky S76 helicopter had two crew and nine passengers on board


The lives of the 11 men were remembered as candles were lit in their memory - Credit: Anthony Carroll

It was on contract to Shell UK Exploration and Productions and had left the Sole Pit gas production platform bound for the Leman gas field
Experts said the blade from the main rotor fractured causing the craft to plunge into the sea and giving no hope of survival to those on board
Shell, for whom three of the men worked for, had erected a glass porch in the Minster in memory of the 11 who died


Rev Peter Paine looks on as a candle is lit - Credit: Anthony Carroll

The roof of the porch is shaped like a helicopter rotor blade and painted on it in gold is the name of each of the victims

The service at Great Yarmouth Minster saw candles lit in memory of the crash victims. - Credit: Anthony Carroll

this article first appeared on the Great Yarmouth Mercury website and is reproduced with permission


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