Piper Alpha – 25 Years

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Piper Alpha

I was ten years old when the images of a burning oil rig appeared on our TV. Even at that age I was more than aware of the impact this had on everyone in the North East and that shockwave can still be felt today a quarter of a century later. One hundred and sixty seven people died in the disaster and it remains the worst incident of its kind. If there is a positive to be taken from that day, it’s that the fatal lessons that were learned allowed the following generations of roughnecks and oil workers a much safer future.

Our neighbour Bruce Munro was one of those who died that day. His parents owned the local shop Munro’s, known as “Stan and Joy’s” after his mum and dad and they were a lovely family; a family who were already a focus for the community in Bucksburn found themselves as the centre of the outpouring of grief and condolences for everyone. He was only 29 and for me as a young boy it was one of the first times that the news on TV had actually meant something to me as an individual. Watching the burning structure and the rescue attempts you wondered how anyone could have survived that – but sixty one did, many jumping from the platform or the helipad into the waters below.

The oil industry was and still is central to the city of Aberdeen and the lessons learned from that day were hard ones, but ones that have allowed thousands of men and women to fly to and from the rigs in the years since with the knowledge that the safety levels are as high as they can be. The are showing the documentary “Fire in the Night” next Tuesday, 9th July on BBC Two at 9pm. Survivors of the tragedy are interviewed about their own experiences and while difficult viewing for many across the North East, many will tune in to hear the stories of those who somehow escaped that night. Some describe it as “hell” and talk about the noise of the platform bending and breaking up around them as they lost so many of their friends and co-workers.

The 6th of July will be a date remembered in this corner of the world for a long time to come – and rightly so. The youngest victim Mark Ashton was 19 years old, the oldest at 65 and nearing retirement David Wiser and their families along with all the others will come together today to commemorate the event and the day they lost their loved ones. The memorial garden and statue in the city’s Hazlehead Park allows everyone effected by that day to come together and remember and the great fundraising work done by the families to keep it in top condition received great support from both the people and the oil industry of Aberdeen. It sits as a reminder that despite the constant refrain of “Oil Capital of Europe” and “Oil Rich Aberdeen” the industry is only as good as the men and women who go out to those rigs and make it happen.

The 167 that lost their lives that day will always be in our thoughts

  • Robert Adams, 39
  • Ian Anderson, 29
  • John Anderson, 33
  • George Anderson, 45
  • Mark Ashton, 19
  • Wilson Bain, 34
  • Barry Barber, 46
  • Craig Barclay, 24
  • Alan Barr, 37
  • Brian Batchelor, 44
  • Amabile-Jim-Borg, 51
  • Hugh Brackenridge, 47
  • Sandy Bremner, 38
  • Eric Brianchon, 32
  • Hugh Briston, 40
  • Stephen Brown, 27
  • Henry Brown, 39
  • James Bruce, 42
  • Gordon Bruce, 52
  • Carl Busse, 31
  • David Campbell, 23
  • David A. Campbell, 29
  • Alexander Cargill, 39
  • Robert Carroll, 34
  • Alan Carter, 43
  • Robert Cleland, 33
  • Stephen Cole, 40
  • Hugh Connor, 35
  • John Cooke, 59
  • John Cooper, 37
  •  Bill Coutts, 37
  • William Cowie, 32
  • Michael Cox, 26
  • Alan Cradock, 31
  •  Edward Crowden, 47
  • Bernard Curtis, 45
  • Jose Da Silva, 26
  • John Dawson, 38
  • Eric Deverell, 51
  • Charles Duncan, 29
  • John Duncan, 33
  • William Duncan, 38
  • Thomas Duncan, 39
  • Eric Duncan, 49
  • Alexander Duncan, 51
  • David Ellis, 28
  • Douglas Findlay, 38
  • Harry Flook, 51
  • George Fowler, 40
  •  Alex Frew, 41
  •  Samuel Gallacher, 30
  • Miguel Galvez-Estevez, 36
  • Ernie Gibson, 45
  • Albert Gill, 32
  •  Ian Gillanders, 50
  • Kevin Gilligan, 35
  • Shaun Glendinning, 24
  •  John Goldthorp, 37
  • Stephen Goodwin, 22
  • James Gordon, 38
  • David Gorman, 41
  • Kenneth Graham, 40
  • Peter Grant, 31
  • Cyril Gray, 49
  • Harold Green, 44
  • Michael Groves, 44
  • John Hackett, 49
  • Ian Hay, 31
  • Thomas Hayes, 39
  •  James Heggie, 45
  • David Henderson, 28
  • Phillip Houston, 35
  • Duncan Jennings, 28
  • Jeffrey Jones, 37
  • Christopher Kavanagh, 49
  • William Kelly, 43
  •  Ian Killington, 33
  • Brian Kirby, 51
  • Stuart Knox, 37
  • Alex Laing, 38
  • Terrence Largue, 34
  • Graham Lawrie, 39
  • Findlay Leggat, 37
  • Brian Lithgow, 34
  • Robert Littlejohn, 29
  • Martin Longstaffe, 22
  • Raymond Mahoney, 60
  • John Martin, 33
  • Sidney McBoyle, 36
  • Robert McCall, 39
  • James McCulloch, 51
  • Alistair McDonald, 33
  • Alexander McElwee, 45
  • Thomas McEwan, 38
  • William McGregor, 48
  • Frederick McGurk, 51
  • William McIntosh, 24
  • Gordon McKay, 33
  • Charles McLaughlin, 46
  • Neil McLeod, 47
  • Francis McPake, 49
  •  David McWhinnie, 36
  • Dugald McWilliams, 31
  • Carl Mearns, 20
  • Derek Millar, 32
  • Alan Miller, 31
  • Frank Miller, 33
  • John Molloy, 32
  • Les Morris, 38
  • Bruce Munro, 29
  • George Murray, 37
  • James Niven, 27
  • Graham Noble, 37
  • Michael O’Shea, 30
  • Robert Pearston, 25
  • Ian Piper, 38
  • Wasyl Pochrybniak, 37
  • Raymond Price, 59
  • Neil Pyman, 32
  • Terence Quinn, 28
  • William Raeburn, 38
  • Robert Reid, 27
  • Donald Reid, 44
  • Gordon Rennie, 52
  • Robert Richard, 45
  • Alan Riddoch, 44
  • Adrian Roberts, 28
  • Alexander Robertson, 50
  • Donald Robertson, 54
  • Gary Ross, 29
  • Michael Ryan, 23
  • Stanley Sangster, 56
  • James Savage, 41
  • Michael Scorgie, 28
  • Bill Scorgie, 46
  • John Scott, 26
  • Colin Seaton, 51
  • Robert Selbie, 32
  • Michael Serink, 26
  • Michael Short, 41
  • Richard Skinner, 41
  • William Smith, 43
  • James Speirs, 42
  • Kenneth Stephenson, 37
  • Thomas Stirling, 27
  • Malcom Storey, 38
  • James Stott, 40
  •  Jurgen Stwerka, 36
  • Stuart Sutherland, 21
  • Terence Sutton, 28
  • Alexander Taylor, 57
  • Alastair Thompson, 45
  • Robert Vernon, 51
  • John Wakefield, 35
  • Michael Walker, 24
  • Bryan Ward, 48
  • Gareth Watkin, 42
  • Frank Watson, 38
  • Alexander Whibley, 28
  • Kevan White, 42
  • Robert Whiteley, 39
  • Graham Whyte, 42
  • James Whyte, 53
  • Alan Wicks, 40
  • Paul Williamson, 24
  • David Wiser, 65
  • John Woodcock, 29

Piper Memorial

JD

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