Helicopter Crash Memorial

Helicopter Crash Memorial

Fleetwood is very good at remembering notable points in history, whether good or bad. The Helicopter Crash Memorial on The Esplanade is one of the monuments and statues in the town.

This memorial is sited just at the left of the RNLI station on Fleetwood sea front. It joins other tributes on the Wyre coastline, marking the tragic loss of life through the generations to the power of the Irish Sea.

Helicopter Crash Memorial

On 27 December 2006, a helicopter was picking up workers from the rig in Morecambe Bay when it crashed into the sea, killing everyone on board.

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RNLI life boatmen from Fleetwood brought the bodies of the seven men back to shore at Fleetwood. That’s why Sandra Potton, wife of the pilot Steve Potton, chose the spot adjacent to Fleetwood Lifeboat Station for the memorial. After a series of meetings with Wyre and Lancashire County Councils, the details of where the monument should go and its siting were sorted out.

Unveiling the memorial

Then, Sandra’s plans came to fruition, with the unveiling of the monument. A special service was held at 3pm on Wednesday 1 February 2012.

Sandra met the not inconsiderable cost of the memorial herself. It’s a lectern style, dark grey granite plinth. Etched into it are illustrations of a helicopter, gas rig and an RNLI boat. Poignantly, there’s also a forget-me-not flower. The names of the brave men who lost their lives in this disaster are commemorated, as a permanent reminder for generations to come.

Names of the men lost in the Morecambe Bay Helicopter Crash Memorial on The Esplanade, Fleetwood
Names of the men lost in the Morecambe Bay Helicopter Crash Memorial on The Esplanade, Fleetwood

The men were Robert Warburton, 60, of Heysham, Lancashire; Leslie Ahmed, 48, from South Shields, Tyneside; John Shaw, 51, from Kirkcaldy, Fife; Alfred Neasham, 57, from County Durham and Keith Smith, 57, from Stockton-on-Tees.

An inquest in 2009 found the men died as the result of an accident.

Unveiling the Morecambe Bay Helicopter Crash Memorial

Sandra performed the unveiling of the memorial and the Mayor of Wyre was in attendance. Head Boys and Girls from Fleetwood High, Cardinal Allen and Rossall Schools attended. A short dedication service was performed by Rev Michael Payne, then of Cleveleys Park Methodist Church.

The service was held after the anniversary of the tragedy so that Steve’s son could be there. He made the journey from Canada to be joined by wives and families of the other lost men. It would have been difficult to arrange on the exact anniversary of the crash, as it’s so near to Christmas.

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