Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 20°C

min temp: 13°C

Search

Video: Memorial held in honour of those who died in European Gateway disaster off Felixstowe was a ‘fitting tribute’, organisers say

PUBLISHED: 13:05 19 December 2013 | UPDATED: 21:13 19 December 2013

The European Gateway on her side off Felixstowe after the accident in 1982 - preparations underway to pull her upright.

The European Gateway on her side off Felixstowe after the accident in 1982 - preparations underway to pull her upright.

Archant

A solemn service honouring those who perished in a maritime disaster off the Suffolk coast was held this morning, 31 years after the tragedy cast a “terrible shadow” over the community.

Survivors of the European Gateway catastrophe joined with Felixstowe’s dignitaries and the seafaring community to pay tribute to the six seamen who lost their lives on that fateful night in 1982.

On a crisp winter’s morning, overlooking the shimmering North Sea, where the macabre spectre of the capsized vessel had remained for weeks after the fatal accident, a simple plaque was unveiled.

Former mayor of Felixstowe Mike Deacon, who helped organise the memorial in response to an Ipswich Star campaign, told those gathered at the cliff tops on Wolsey Gardens that the date would remain with him forever.

“I remember leaving home with absolutely no knowledge of what had happened,” he said.

“I drove down the seafront and out of the corner of my eye I saw the wreck of the ship.

“Like the rest of the town I was in absolute shock and it cast a shadow over the community for many, many weeks.”

The cargo ferry was on its way to Zeebrugge, when it collided with the inbound Speed Link Vanguard just before midnight on December 19, 1982, prompting a heroic rescue operation, which saved all but six of the 70 people on board.

But while the disaster remained etched in the minds of those who witnessed it, there had been no official memorial to honour those that died.

Following a campaign launched by the Ipswich Star and BBC Radio Suffolk, Mr Deacon, with the permission of Felixstowe Town Council, sought suggestions for possible tributes.

The Felixstowe Society, East of England Co-operative and Perfitt stonemasons all rose to the challenge and were thanked profusely by Mr Deacon at this morning’s memorial.

Roger Baker, chairman of the Felixstowe Society, added his thanks to the organisers.

“There’s been a lot of work going on in the background and we are very proud to be associated with this partnership,” he said.

United Reformed Church minister Rev Ivor Smith led the audience in a simple prayer remembering those that had died and “all that sail the seas”.

Speaking after the event, Mr Deacon said he was “absolutely delighted” with how it went.

“I think it’s a very fitting tribute,” he said,

The current mayor, Jan Garfield, also welcomed the event.

“It was amazing to see so many ex-mariners who have known each other from various ships around the areas, and I think it’s wonderful to seem them all meeting up with each other again,” she said.

Comments have been disabled on this article.

Thousands of people have headed to Jimmy’s Farm in Wherstead today for the first day of one of the biggest events on its calendar: Jimmy’s Festival.

A baby born with a rare disease that causes such severe muscle weakness that even breathing, eating and swallowing become difficult for her has received support from a Suffolk charity.

Families in Ipswich needn’t have ventured far to hit the beach as a sandy retreat began its summer-long stint in Christchurch Park.

A man accused of brandishing a fake gun in Ipswich has been detained to appear at crown court next month.

Regional housebuilder Persimmon Homes celebrates its apprenticeships programme.

Libraries face a challenging future under Brexit – but determined Suffolk communities will put up a fight to help them survive.

A petition has been launched to continue the landfill search for missing Corrie McKeague following the news that it has been called off.

Ipswich Town fans have shown their disgust for a billboard in the town showing off Norwich City’s new home kit - by attempting to tear it down.

A person has been taken to hospital after an incident in Christchurch Park in Ipswich this morning.

A Bramford motorcyclist who has admitted causing the death of his pillion passenger through dangerous driving by having a defective rear tyre has been warned he could be jailed.

Most read

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter
MyDate24 MyPhotos24