Issued on 8/1/19 at 7:45 a.m.
A community will gather today (Tuesday January 8) to remember those killed in the tragic events of the Kegworth Air Disaster 30 years ago.
Families of some of the victims and survivors will attend a service at St Andrew’s Church, in Kegworth and wreath-laying tribute organised by Kegworth Parish Council, alongside representatives of the emergency services, including Leicestershire Police.
Some 47 people died when the Boeing 737-400 flight from London to Belfast crashed on the embankment of the M1 at Kegworth while attempting an emergency landing at East Midlands Airport on 8 January 1989.
Thanks to the bravery of many members of the public and skill and tireless work of the emergency services, 79 people survived, although many were seriously injured.
Kegworth residents and county dignitaries will also attend the service at 11am this morning.
Father Gary Donegan will speak on behalf of many of the Irish families affected by the disaster, many of whom were passengers travelling back to Northern Ireland on the evening it happened.
Wreaths will also be laid at the permanent memorial in the village’s cemetery where much of the earth from the crash site was moved. Chief Constable Simon Cole is among those laying a wreath.
He said: “Leicestershire officers and staff, along with other emergency services, responded to this incident with immense professionalism, putting in many hours over several days to ensure help was there when it was needed most. We remain immensely grateful to them and pay tribute to the dedication that they showed under extremely difficult conditions.
“Crucially, we would also like to pay tribute and remember those who lost their lives that day 30 years ago in such tragic circumstances. They will never be forgotten.”
David Hignett, chairman of Kegworth Parish Council, said: “This disaster has been remembered in Kegworth every year since 1989.
“We hope that through the church service, the floral tributes at the memorial and the gathering afterwards, the feelings that our community has towards those who lost their lives, their relatives, the survivors, the emergency services and all those who helped at the time, will be apparent."
Councillor Richard Blunt, leader of North West Leicestershire District Council, said: “This service is an opportunity for us all to remember and reflect upon the lives lost on that terrible night in 1989.
“It’s also a chance to remember the bravery of the survivors, the public that stopped to help, and our emergency services. Over time the village of Kegworth has been able to heal and move on from this traumatic event, but will always remember those killed or affected by it with true dignity and respect. This community should be very proud of that.”
Ian Holden, group manager of Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Memories of that night are still very clear in my mind despite it being thirty years ago. I still think today of those who we helped to rescue and those who we tragically could not save.
"My thoughts are with the comrades in the emergency services who battled on that night and also with the members of the public who attended early on in assisting the fire service and ambulance crews until we could muster sufficient crews on the ground.
“On behalf of Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service and myself, we hope this service will bring together many of those who attended that night, in remembrance and recognition of their bravery and also some reconciliation for the families suffering the loss still to this day.”
Tim Slater, paramedic and general manager for Derbyshire at East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS), said: “Although 30 years have passed since the Kegworth Air Disaster, the impact and memories from the event will never leave the individuals involved in the incident and our ambulance crews who responded to it.
“It is really important that we continue to remember the tragedy which unfolded that day, the passengers and air crew who lost their lives, and the emergency service personnel who worked tirelessly to save the survivors.”
Photo courtesy of the Leicester Mercury