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Great Yarmouth service remembers 11 killed in helicopter crash

PUBLISHED: 14:47 17 July 2017 | UPDATED: 11:50 18 July 2017

Yarmouth helicopter crash victims. L-R: David Graves, Geoffrey Bispham, Douglas Learwood, Philip Wade, David Graves, Kevin Taylor, Philip Dearden, Philip Stone and Angus McArthur. Photo: Archant Library

Yarmouth helicopter crash victims. L-R: David Graves, Geoffrey Bispham, Douglas Learwood, Philip Wade, David Graves, Kevin Taylor, Philip Dearden, Philip Stone and Angus McArthur. Photo: Archant Library

Archant Library

The lives of 11 men who died in a helicopter crash off Great Yarmouth have been remembered in an anniversary service of remembrance.

The names of the eleven who died in the helicopter crash in 2002 on the ceiling of the memorial porch at St Nicholas Minster, Great Yarmouth. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe names of the eleven who died in the helicopter crash in 2002 on the ceiling of the memorial porch at St Nicholas Minster, Great Yarmouth. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

On July 16 2002 a Sikorsky 76 helicopter plunged 400ft into the sea killing the two crewmen and nine oil platform workers on board after its rotor blade snapped off.

Seven of the men were from Norfolk and Suffolk and the helicopter they were on went down 25 miles of Yarmouth.

Rev Jemma Sander-Heys, team vicar, takes the 15th anniversary remembrance service at St Nicholas Minster, Great Yarmouth, for the eleven who died in the helicopter crash in 2002. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYRev Jemma Sander-Heys, team vicar, takes the 15th anniversary remembrance service at St Nicholas Minster, Great Yarmouth, for the eleven who died in the helicopter crash in 2002. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

On Monday a service of remembrance was held for the men at St Nicholas Minster led by Great Yarmouth port chaplain Rev Peter Paine and Rev Jemma Sanders-Heys.

The service was attended by 40 people and saw candles lit for each of the men that died as their names were read out - Stewart Coggon, Philip Stone, Kevin Taylor, Dennis Kelleher, Angus MacArthur, Geoffrey Bispham, David Graves, Douglas Learwood, Paul Francis, Philip Wade and Philip Dearden.

Great Yarmouth mayor, Kerry Robinson-Payne, lights the first candle at the 15th anniversary remembrance service at St Nicholas Minster, Great Yarmouth, for the eleven who died in the helicopter crash in 2002. With her is Great Yarmouth Port Rev Peter Paine. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYGreat Yarmouth mayor, Kerry Robinson-Payne, lights the first candle at the 15th anniversary remembrance service at St Nicholas Minster, Great Yarmouth, for the eleven who died in the helicopter crash in 2002. With her is Great Yarmouth Port Rev Peter Paine. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mr Paine, who had been port chaplain for six months when the tragedy happened, said: “The aircraft suffered a catastrophic mechanical failure and crashed into the sea with the loss of all.”

Among those attending were representatives from the Coastguard, Caister lifeboat station and the police, the mayor of Great Yarmouth Kerry Robinson-Payne, John Ward, chairman of Norfolk County Council,as well as people who had worked with some of the men and the wife and daughter of Geoffrey Bispham.

Norfolk County Council chairman, John Ward, lights a candle at the 15th anniversary remembrance service at St Nicholas Minster, Great Yarmouth, for the eleven who died in the helicopter crash in 2002. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNorfolk County Council chairman, John Ward, lights a candle at the 15th anniversary remembrance service at St Nicholas Minster, Great Yarmouth, for the eleven who died in the helicopter crash in 2002. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council Graham Plant also read out a poem which had been written after the disaster by some of the platform’s crew, part of which said: “Honour us by speaking our names. Take us with you by thinking of us in the years to come.”

The service also saw a wreath laid by the mayor in the Shell porch put up in the church after the disaster.

Candles are lit at the 15th anniversary remembrance service at St Nicholas Minster, Great Yarmouth, for the eleven who died in the helicopter crash in 2002. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYCandles are lit at the 15th anniversary remembrance service at St Nicholas Minster, Great Yarmouth, for the eleven who died in the helicopter crash in 2002. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The cause of the crash of the helicopter, which was operated by Bristow Helicopters of Norwich and contracted to Shell, was put down to a manufacturing glitch involving a rotor that was exacerbated by a lighting strike.

The chopper had been on a routine trip from the Clipper platform, a gas rig, to the Santa Fe Monarch gas drilling rig when it went down 25 miles north east of Yarmouth.

Leader if the Great Yarmouth Borough Council, Graham Plant, reads a poem at the 15th anniversary remembrance service at St Nicholas Minster, Great Yarmouth, for the eleven who died in the helicopter crash in 2002. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYLeader if the Great Yarmouth Borough Council, Graham Plant, reads a poem at the 15th anniversary remembrance service at St Nicholas Minster, Great Yarmouth, for the eleven who died in the helicopter crash in 2002. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mr Paine said the service of remembrance will be repeated next year.

Great Yarmouth mayor, Kerry Robinson-Payne, lays a wreath in the memorial porch at the 15th anniversary remembrance service at St Nicholas Minster, Great Yarmouth, for the eleven who died in the helicopter crash in 2002. With her is Great Yarmouth Port Rev Peter Paine. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYGreat Yarmouth mayor, Kerry Robinson-Payne, lays a wreath in the memorial porch at the 15th anniversary remembrance service at St Nicholas Minster, Great Yarmouth, for the eleven who died in the helicopter crash in 2002. With her is Great Yarmouth Port Rev Peter Paine. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The lit candles at the 15th anniversary remembrance service at St Nicholas Minster, Great Yarmouth, for the eleven who died in the helicopter crash in 2002. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe lit candles at the 15th anniversary remembrance service at St Nicholas Minster, Great Yarmouth, for the eleven who died in the helicopter crash in 2002. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Great Yarmouth Port Chaplain, Rev Peter Paine, with the lit candles at the 15th anniversary remembrance service at St Nicholas Minster, Great Yarmouth, for the eleven who died in the helicopter crash in 2002. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYGreat Yarmouth Port Chaplain, Rev Peter Paine, with the lit candles at the 15th anniversary remembrance service at St Nicholas Minster, Great Yarmouth, for the eleven who died in the helicopter crash in 2002. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The lit candles with the memorial porch behind at the 15th anniversary remembrance service at St Nicholas Minster, Great Yarmouth, for the eleven who died in the helicopter crash in 2002. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe lit candles with the memorial porch behind at the 15th anniversary remembrance service at St Nicholas Minster, Great Yarmouth, for the eleven who died in the helicopter crash in 2002. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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