A POIGNANT ceremony was held at the Piper Alpha Memorial Garden in Aberdeen today to mark the completion of the restoration of the gardens dedicated to the 167 men who were killed in the world’s worst offshore disaster on 6 July, 1988.
• A ceremony to mark the restoration of a memorial garden for the Piper Alpha disaster was held today
• Garden in Hazelhead Park remembers the 167 men who died in offshore tragedy
The campaign to restore the gardens in the city’s Hazelhead Park to their former glory was led by the Pound for Piper Trust, formed by two offshore stewardesses, Carol Banks and Lucy Norval.
The Pound for Piper Trust gained the support of the oil and gas industry, with Oil & Gas UK member companies donating £140,000 of the total £150,000 cost of the refurbishment. Aberdeen City Council made up the remainder of the money needed and Aberdeen-based Cocker’s Roses also provided more than 11,000 roses towards the restoration scheme.
Families bereaved in the disaster were amongst those who attended the simple ceremony to mark the completion of the scheme. They including Kerri Henderson whose father David, died in the Piper Alpha tragedy eight days before she was born.
The organisers of the trust have now announced plans to continue their fundraising campaign to raise £1 million to ensure the long-term maintenance of the gardens.
Ms Banks said: “This is a momentous day for everyone who has worked hard to make it possible. Since we set up Pound for Piper, we’ve been overwhelmed by the support of the onshore and the offshore community as well as the oil and gas industry which has backed the trust both financially and in spirit.”
She added: “Not just as an offshore worker but as someone who lives in Aberdeen, I wanted to do something positive to help honour the memory of those affected by Piper Alpha and their families to make sure that the place where people go to reflect, contemplate and remember their friends and loved ones is fitting.”
Ms Norval said: “Every day, those affected by Piper Alpha live with the effects of the disaster. We work in a very challenging industry and the disaster was the turning point for putting safety first.
Geoff Holmes, chief executive of Talisman Sinopec Energy UK Limited and a member of the Oil & Gas UK board said: “The industry’s support for this campaign has been inspirational; it demonstrates how passionate we all are about ensuring we remember those who lost their lives. The incredible efforts of the Pound for Piper team mean that the much-loved and important memorial to Piper Alpha will thrive for many years to come.”
Councillor Neil Cooney, convener of Aberdeen City Council’s Housing and Environment Committee, said: “The Memorial Garden and statue is a very special place for Aberdeen citizens and the wider oil and gas industry, particularly for those whose lives have been affected by this tragedy. It is a place for quiet contemplation and reflection so it is therefore essential that it is attractive, well looked after and maintained to as high a standard as possible.”