Aberdeen ,

Piper Alpha – 30 years on - All welcome to attend Act of Remembrance

The final preparations have been put in place in the Piper Alpha Memorial Garden in Aberdeen’s Hazlehead Park ahead of a special service, which will take place at 7pm today (Friday 6 July) to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the tragedy.

Aberdeen City Council, with the support of the Pound for Piper Trust, has installed new benches and refreshed the garden in readiness for the service, which is open to all to attend.

Reverend Gordon Craig, Chaplain to the Oil & Gas Industry of the United Kingdom, will lead an Act of Remembrance for families, friends and representatives from industry in honour of the 167 men who tragically lost their lives in the Piper Alpha disaster.

Reverend Craig, organiser of the Act of Remembrance, said: “As the day of the anniversary got closer it was apparent in the calls we received that many wished to take time to commemorate the tragedy and remember those lost. So many lives were affected on that terrible night and it is right and proper that we take a little time to recognise this. In doing so my prayer is we provide a little crumb of comfort to those affected most.

“I think it is vital that the industry takes time to remember too. The deaths of those men led to massive improvements in the way safety was managed in North Sea Industry. It became an infinitely safer place than it was in 1988 but it will only remain so if we all play our part. Remembering the cost when things go horribly wrong can only encourage us all to work safely.

“I’m therefore grateful that Step Change in Safety has provided a means to stream the commemoration live from the Chaplaincy Facebook Page. This has been a great comfort to families who can no longer travel to Aberdeen and allows the offshore community to join with those in Aberdeen and remember all who failed to return to their family after the disaster.”

The order of service will include a poem entitled the Sea and the Beach, read by the chaplain.

Their names will be read in a roll call by the Chaplain, Oil & Gas UK Chief Executive Deirdre Michie, Joanna Reynolds - Graduate of the Year 2017, Head of HSE’s Offshore Division Chris Flint, Step in Change Safety Executive Director Les Linklater, and Apprentice of the Year 2017, Sam Ash.

The service will conclude with a Piper’s Lament, followed by a minute’s silence. After this industry representatives, government representatives and friends, families and colleagues will be invited to lay wreathes and flowers.

Offshore workers will also be able to pay their respects as the service is being streamed live as on the UK Oil and Gas Chaplaincy Facebook page, made possible through the support of Step Change in Safety. The timing of the event – chosen to best suit the families and to be closer to the actual time of the disaster – coincides with offshore workers changing shift.

The Lord Provost of Aberdeen Barney Crockett said: “The Piper Alpha tragedy was 30 years ago yet the events of that night are as shocking today three decades on. It will forever be imprinted on the Aberdeen memory.

“We will never forget the 167 men who died in the tragedy – dads, sons, brothers, uncles, nephews, partners, friends and colleagues, and that is why it is so important that the City of Aberdeen and industry come together for this Act of Remembrance. By doing so I hope that those affected will know that our thoughts are with them at this time and forever.”

Speaking ahead of the service, Oil & Gas UK Chief Executive Deirdre Michie said: “The coming together of industry is so important, reinforcing as it does that we continue to honour and keep in our thoughts, those who died as a result of that awful tragedy.

“It is an important milestone in what is an ongoing journey – one in which we need to ensure every generation shares our determination that it will never happen again.”

The order of service is as follows:

  • Bon Accord Silver Band starts playing at 6.30pm

  • Rev Craig will begin proceedings at 7pm

  • Industry representatives will begin the roll-call of those who lost their lives

  • A lone piper will play a lament followed by a minute’s silence

  • Wreaths will be laid by the Lord Provost on behalf of the City of Aberdeen, Oil & Gas UK Chief Executive Deirdre Michie on behalf of the industry, and Steve Rae one of the trustees from the Pound for Piper Trust whichNorth Sea Memorial Garden.

  • Wreathes will then be laid by Baroness Goldie, representing the Secretary of State for Scotland and the UK Government, and Paul Wheelhouse Minister for Energy representing the Scottish Parliament.

  • Families, friends, colleagues and well-wishers will then have the opportunity to lay flowers or wreaths

  • Light refreshments will be available in Hazlehead Park Café, from 6pm onwards, courtesy of the Pound for Piper Trust

While the Act of Remembrance is the key event marking the anniversary of the disaster there are other opportunities for those wanting to reflect and pay their respects.

  • The Oil Chapel at the Kirk of St Nicholas Uniting in Aberdeen will open on 6 July between 12 noon and 4pm where people can visit to view the original Book of Remembrance or light a candle.

  • Rev Craig will conduct ‘Daily Prayers’ that day in the Kirk starting at 1pm and lasting around 15 minutes.

  • On Saturday 7 July Ferryhill Parish Church will keep its Church Sanctuary open from 10am to 4pm providing a peaceful space in which to remember those who lost their lives and who were affected.

  • Ferryhill Parish Church also has the Memorial Chapel - home of the Piper Alpha stained-glass window. The designer of the window, Jennifer-Jane Bayliss, will be in the church from 11am and 12 noon and 2pm and 4pm.

  • The church is also home to the Lord Provost's Book of Remembrance, and visitors will be able to read the names of loved ones, survivors’ names and official letters of condolence from all over the world.

  • A short film with some memories from survivors of the disaster will also be available.

  • There will be an opportunity to light a small candle in remembrance.

  • Piper Alpha Memorial Banner, commissioned by the Victorian Trade and Labour Council in Australia, and gifted to the City of Aberdeen, will be taken down from where it usually hangs in the Education Suite to allow visitors to see both sides of this very special artwork.

    • Aberdeen Maritime Museum, Shiprow - Friday 6 July, Saturday 7 July, 10am-5pmSunday 8 July, 12noon-3pm

  • Remembering Piper Alpha exhibition

    • To mark the 30th anniversary of the tragedy the Local Studies section has put together an exhibition showcasing items from its reserve stock. The exhibition will be on display in the Information Centre.

      Aberdeen Central Library, Rosemount Viaduct

      Exhibition runs 5 July – 14 July