Piper Alpha men remembered on 30th anniversary of North Sea tragedy

MSP Paul Wheelhouse and Baroness Annabel Goldie lay a wreath at the memorial in Aberdeen's Hazlehead Park last night. Picture: PA Wire
MSP Paul Wheelhouse and Baroness Annabel Goldie lay a wreath at the memorial in Aberdeen's Hazlehead Park last night. Picture: PA Wire
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The men who died in the Piper Alpha disaster were remembered last night when all 167 names were read out at a special service to mark 30 years since the world’s worst offshore disaster.

An Act of Remembrance was held in Aberdeen’s Hazlehead Park, home to the Piper Alpha Memorial Garden, attended by family and friends of the victims and some of the 61 survivors who managed to flee the burning platform on 6 July, 1988.

The service has been organised by the Reverend Gordon Craig, chaplain to the UK offshore oil and gas industry, who said: “So many lives were affected on that terrible night and it is right and proper that we take a little time to recognise this. In doing so, my prayer is we provide a little crumb of comfort to those affected most.

“I think it is vital that the industry takes time to remember too. The deaths of those men led to massive improvements in the way safety was managed in North Sea industry. It became an infinitely safer place than it was in 1988 but it will only remain so if we all play our part. Remembering the cost when things go horribly wrong can only encourage us all to work safely.”

Industry representatives read aloud the names of those who died and a lone piper played a lament, followed by a minute’s silence.

Former offshore professional Geoff Bollands, who was working in the Piper Alpha control room on the night of the tragedy and was rescued by boat, travelled to Aberdeen with his son to pay his respects to lost colleagues and friends.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “Thinking of the 167 people who died in the Piper Alpha disaster 30 years ago today – as well the loved ones they left behind and all those who still live with the awful memories. You are all in our thoughts.”

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: “My thoughts today are with the families and loved ones of the 167 people who lost their lives on the Piper Alpha 30 years ago – they were fathers, sons and husbands as well as skilled North Sea workers. It showed the dangers of working offshore, and the risks faced by the skilled workers in this field.

“Thirty years on, we must remember the loss of life and also reflect on the lessons learned to ensure such a tragedy can never happen again. We must never forget the terrible disaster of Piper Alpha.”

Scotland’s energy minister, Paul Wheelhouse, said: “I vividly recall the awful images of the Piper Alpha tragedy, and I know how profoundly the loss of life affected the city of Aberdeen and Scotland.

“The anniversary provides a very important reminder to this industry, and all industries, that safety should always be paramount.”