30th anniversary: Lone piper for 167 Piper Alpha disaster victims
A lone piper will play a lament, and the names of the 167 men who tragically lost their lives in the Piper Alpha platform disaster in the UK North Sea will be read aloud on Thursday at a special memorial service taking place in Aberdeen next week on the 30th anniversary of the accident.
According to industry body Oil and Gas UK, families, friends and representatives from industry will come together for an Act of Remembrance taking place at 7pm on 6 July in the Piper Alpha Memorial Garden at Hazlehead Park.
Offshore workers will also be able to pay their respects as the service is being streamed live on the UK Oil and Gas Chaplaincy Facebook page. 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 Reverend Gordon Craig, Chaplain to the UK offshore oil and gas industry, who is organizing the Act of Remembrance, said:
“We may be three decades on from the world’s worst offshore disaster but for families, friends, colleagues and survivors, the memories and feelings of loss are no less. Our service will enable those to come together with representatives from the city and industry and remember the loved ones who tragically never made it home.”
The Lord Provost of Aberdeen Barney Crockett said: “The shocking events of that night 30 years ago are imprinted on the Aberdeen memory forever.
“We will never forget that 167 men died in the Piper Alpha tragedy, which is why it is so important that the City of Aberdeen and industry come together for this Act of Remembrance. We want to let those affected, particularly the families, know that we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them and that our thoughts are with them now and forever.”
Steve Rae, on behalf of the Pound for Piper Trust, said: “The Pound for Piper Trust would like to thank the staff at Aberdeen City Council and Hazlehead Park for making every effort to have these gardens looking at their best for the service. We would also like to thank those who give generously and those who work tirelessly to raise funds on the Trust’s behalf, as without their continued support the Trust would be unable to provide financial assistance to ensure these gardens are maintained to the high standards deserved of those 167 souls who lost their lives on that tragic night.”
Piper Alpha platform
Operated by Occidental Petroleum, Piper Alpha was a large North Sea oil platform that started production in 1976.
On July 6, 1988, there was a massive leakage of gas condensate on Piper Alpha, which was ignited causing an explosion which led to large oil fires. The heat ruptured the riser of a gas pipeline from another installation.
This produced a further massive explosion and fireball that engulfed the Piper Alpha platform. All this took just 22 minutes. The scale of the disaster was enormous. 167 people died, 62 people survived.
The order Piper Alpha Memorial Service:
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 then 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 which provides funding to help the city council maintain the North Sea Memorial Garden
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 July 7 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.