Memorial services to mark 25 years since RAF Chinook crash

A cairn stands at the crash site, marked with the names of the passengers and crew who died
A cairn stands at the crash site, marked with the names of the passengers and crew who died
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The victims of an RAF Chinook helicopter crash have been remembered at services 25 years on.

Relatives of the 29 people who died when the aircraft crashed on the Mull of Kintyre in south-west Scotland joined the commemorations on Sunday.

Services were held at Southend Parish Church on the peninsula and at the crash site to remember the 25 passengers and four crew who died in the 1994 tragedy.

The helicopter was on its way from RAF Aldergrove near Belfast to Inverness when it crashed into a hillside in thick fog. A memorial cairn stands at the accident spot.

Rev Stephen Fulcher said more than 100 people attended the church service and around 50 people gathered at the crash site, including members of the emergency services working on the night of the disaster.

Mr Fulcher said: “It has been an emotional day but very healing. The relatives appreciated the services.

“It has been important for them and us to mark this significant anniversary. It brings it very close to people who were involved.

“I very much appreciate how the people of Southend have pulled together to make the commemorations a very significant event.

“People have gone above and beyond to make things run smoothly and show support for the relatives of those who died in the crash.

“It has consolidated friendships built up between local people and families over 25 years.”

Rev Roddy McNidder, the minister at Southend, near Campbeltown, at the time of the disaster, said the 25 ­passengers – including personnel from the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), MI5 and the Army – and four crew will never be forgotten.

Mr McNidder said: “This lovingly built cairn claims the ground in remembrance of the sadness of 2 June, 1994, to honour your loved ones and also yourselves, your families and friends.

“Each name inscribed on this cairn, which shines out every time the sun reflects upon it, calls us to remember the unique person whose name is written there.”

The Chinook pilots, flight lieutenants Jonathan Tapper and Richard Cook, were accused of gross negligence over the crash. However, a fresh review found the pilots should not have been blamed.

Last month the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland made a fresh call for the Ministry of Defence not to destroy records relating to the worst RAF peacetime disaster. Former Moderator Very Rev Dr Alan McDonald tsaid the MoD had confirmed records closed in 1995 and 1996 “will be reviewed for release or alternative disposal this year”.