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Felixstowe: Survivor of European Gateway Disaster backs our fight for permanent memorial on the seafront

11:00 10 January 2013

The European Gateway on her side off Felixstowe after the accident in 1982.

The European Gateway on her side off Felixstowe after the accident in 1982.

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A SURVIVOR of the European Gateway disaster today recalled the horrifying moment the vessel capsized just off the coast of Felixstowe, as we continue our campaign for a permanent memorial.

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Six people lost their lives when the Gateway was in a collision with the inbound Speed Link Vanguard just before midnight on December 19, 1982.

Simon Dowers, 53, of Martlesham, was an able seaman at the time the vessel made its fateful journey.

He said: “There was a strong movement and the lights went out and came back on again.

“The engine noise changed which makes you aware something has happened – then it started to list to starboard. The ship’s sirens then started sounding.”

Mr Dowers and the rest of his colleagues got dressed when the sirens started sounding and got up on deck, where they witnessed the horrifying drama unfold.

“I unfortunately chose the option to jump into the sea,” he added.

“When you go into the North Sea in December, it’s very cold, so the main thing on your mind is swimming away from the vessel and keeping warm.”

Mr Dowers was eventually rescued after several attempts were made to throw a inflatable buoy device to him.

He admitted that he does not keep record of dates but the memories of December 19, 1982, are still etched in his memory.

And Mr Dowers has today backed our campaign to have a permanent memorial erected on the seafront, in memory of the victims.

He said: “It would be nice. It is always a bit funny – memorials to people who have died – but I would be prepared to help.”

Our campaign has already received support from Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey and Felixstowe mayor Mike Deacon, who has pledged to raise the issue with town councillors this month.

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