Hundreds to mark date of deadly Shoreham air crash

Hundreds of people are expected to gather today to mark the first anniversary of the Shoreham air disaster, which killed 11 men.

Emergency services work on the A27 at Shoreham in West Sussex following the air disaster. Picture: PA
Emergency services work on the A27 at Shoreham in West Sussex following the air disaster. Picture: PA

A minute’s silence will be held at 1.22pm – the exact time the vintage Hawker Hunter jet crashed on to the A27 in West Sussex during the Shoreham Air Show.

Names of the 11 who died when the 1950s plane came down in front of thousands of spectators last 22 August will be read by the Reverend Canon Ann Waizeneker.

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And flowers will be laid at the memorial, which is being staged near the crash site at the wooden Shoreham Tollbridge, which became a focal point for the community following the tragedy.

Victims’ families, emergency service officers and civic leaders will attend the event. And flags will be flown at half-mast at civic buildings across West Sussex.

At Worthing United FC, a two-minute applause will be staged followed by a minute’s silence in memory of the victims, who included their players Jacob Schilt and Matthew Grimstone, both 23.

As the community prepares to remember, Leslye Polito, whose 23-year-old son Daniele was among the 11 who died, said the passing of time has not made her loss easier.

Ms Polito, from Worthing, said: “It’s been a roller coaster. We try to celebrate Daniele for all the good, fun things but it’s a living nightmare. It’s all surreal.”

Mr Schilt’s mother Caroline Schilt said some solace was gained from sharing the pain with others. She said: “It’s lovely for the families to share in this awful thing in a strange sort of way.”

Ms Polito and Mrs Schilt were among victims’ relatives who attended a service on Saturday at Grade I-listed St Mary de Haura Church in Shoreham.

Eleven altar candles were lit by family members before the names of those killed were read out and prayers said to remember the lost lives.

The Rev Terry Stratford, associate priest of St Mary de Haura, said the community still shared “a sense of loss and bewilderment”.

The Revd Stratford said: “The difficulty is we still don’t have an outcome, we don’t know the reasons why officially yet.”

The disaster was the deadliest at a British airshow since the 1952 Farnborough crash when a de Havilland DH.110 hit spectators, killing 31.

It emerged last month that the pilot, Andrew Hill, 52, is being investigated over possible manslaughter by gross negligence.