A NEW online educational resource to help teach Scottish schoolchildren about the Piper Alpha disaster has been launched by First Minister Alex Salmond on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the world’s worst offshore catastrophe.
A service of remembrance to mark the deaths of 167 oilmen killed in the disaster is being held tomorrow at the Piper Alpha Memorial Garden in Aberdeen’s Hazlehead Park.
The ceremony will be led by the Reverend Gordon Craig, chaplain to the UK oil and gas industry, and will include a roll call of those lost in the tragedy, read out by representatives of the offshore workforce.
During the service wreaths will be laid at the recently refurbished gardens by the Aberdeen’s Lord Provost George Adams, Geoff Holmes, chief executive of Talisman Sinopec Energy UK, the company which now operates the Piper field, and representatives of the Pound for Piper Memorial Trust.
And the new Internet resource will ensure that the lessons learned by the oil industry in the wake of the disaster can be explored by future generations of Scottish pupils.
The dedicated Piper Alpha resource on Education Scotland’s Glow intranet includes links to interviews with survivors, news items, and will include footage from the documentary “Fire in the Night” which recently premiered at the Edinburgh Film Festival and is due to be screened on BBC2 next Tuesday.
Mr Salmond, who will be attending tomorrow’s poignant service of remembrance, said: “Almost twenty-five years on, our first obligation to the men who died in the Piper Alpha tragedy remains ensuring a disaster like this is never allowed to happen again.
“Safety in the oil and gas industry has improved massively since the recommendations made in the Cullen report, but we owe it to the memory of those who were lost to continue to make safety absolutely the first priority for workers offshore.”
He continued: “The 25th anniversary has rightly had a substantial emphasis in making sure that the new generation of offshore workers understand the importance of Piper Alpha in creating the current offshore safety regime. However, given that the oil industry will be with us for the next half century and more, we also have a responsibility to ensure that new generations of Scots understand the significance of the world’s worst offshore disaster. This new resource for schools will help ensure that this can happen.
“Glow provides a starting point for teachers to educate pupils on the Piper Alpha disaster. The site includes a range of learning resources, including footage from documentary ‘Fire in the Night’, links to interviews with survivors, and news items.”
Mr Salmond explained: “The new online community feature provides a digital space for teachers to explore ideas and to share approaches to learning and teaching in the context of the disaster.”
He added: “It is important that we remember what happened that evening and that is especially true in the North-east of Scotland. On Saturday I will pay my respects to the victims at the permanent memorial, here in Aberdeen at Hazlehead Park.
“Families, the oil and gas industry and the local community have undertaken a huge amount of work to restore the garden and the Scottish Government’s donation of £100,000 will be used to help maintain the garden as a permanent tribute to the victims of the world’s worst offshore disaster.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: The online community provides a digital space for teachers to explore ideas and share approaches about learning and teaching in the context of the world’s worst offshore platform disaster. The Glow online community, which goes live today, complements existing resources on the website about the Piper Alpha disaster
“The new Piper Alpha learning community is part of the Scottish Government’s work to mark the 25th anniversary of the disaster, which includes a £100,000 donation to the Pound for Piper Memorial Trust to help maintain a memorial garden to the victims of the 1988 disaster.”
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