Piper Alpha disaster: Two survivors reunited

Roy Thomson and Michael Jennings. Picture: Peter Jolly
Roy Thomson and Michael Jennings. Picture: Peter Jolly
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TWO survivors of the Piper Alpha disaster have been reunited – 25 years after one of the oilmen feared he had pushed the other to his death.

Roy Thomson, 48, from Keith, and Mike Jennings, 72, from Findhorn, have been living only 25 miles apart for years, unaware of each other’s existence.

And they were only reunited after Mr Thomson described in a television interview how he had pushed another worker from the platform as he fled from Piper Alpha’s pipe deck with his boots and boiler suit in flames.

He said: “My feet were burning and my boiler suit was burning so the person in front of me had to move because I needed off pretty fast. I remember saying ‘You’ll have to go – I’m on fire’ and I pushed him. If I had stayed there a minute longer I would have probably perished in the flames.”

Mr Thomson said he had spent more than 20 years wondering if the man he pushed had lived or died. He only realised Mr Jennings had survived when he read the account of his own escape in the book Fire in the Night by Scotsman journalist Stephen McGinty.

Mr Jennings said he had been preparing to jump 120ft from the blazing installation when he was pushed into the sea.

He said: “I put my hand across my lifejacket and my hand over my nose to stop any water going up, preparing to go, when I heard a voice behind me saying ‘My feet are on fire’ and I felt shove. That is when I went just went head over heels. I don’t recall anything apart from coming to the surface again, looking up and thinking thank God I’ve got away with it. I just couldn’t believe it.”