Candles burn at Belfast Kegworth memorial service

St Anne's Cathedral Dean John Mann lights 47 candles for the victims of the Kegworth air disaster.
St Anne's Cathedral Dean John Mann lights 47 candles for the victims of the Kegworth air disaster.

Survivors and relatives of those killed in the Kegworth air crash quietly marked the 25th anniversary of the disaster with a specially-tailored service in Belfast yesterday.

St Anne’s Cathedral, where the first major memorial was held in 1989 six weeks after the crash in England that killed 47 people and left 74 others seriously injured, was the scene of poignant reflection as those affected were remembered a quarter of a century on.

The Belfast-bound British Midlands flight had been carrying many Northern Ireland passengers home from London that Sunday evening when trouble began with one of the engines.

The pilots mistakenly shut down the wrong engine and then crashed on an embankment close to the M1 motorway near the village of Kegworth, as they attempted an emergency landing at East Midlands airport.

Yesterday evening at a weekly religious service in St Anne’s Cathedral, Dean John Mann read extracts from the service 25 years ago, as well as newly written prayers to mark the tragic anniversary.

Those affected by the crash, through bereavement or serious injury need prayers for continued healing and support, Rev Mann told the congregation.

“As we pray, we do so conscious of those years, and those lives, and bring before God our desire for their continuing support and healing,” he said.

“We give thanks too for the continual process of improvement in safety measures that, over the same period of years, have saved many lives and reduced the severity of injury.”

Special tribute was paid to the emergency services who worked at the scene and with the injured victims after the crash, and prayers said for all travellers.

“As day by day we all travel by sea, land or air we pray for care and safety and in gratitude for the work of emergency services and the support of all who offer help in time of accident,” he said.

A memorial scroll laid on the cathedral altar contains the names of all those who died in the crash, and yesterday 47 candles burned.

Yesterday, Kegworth Parish Council clerk Lesley Pendleton laid flowers on a memorial site in Kegworth village.

Prayers were also said at a Holy Communion service at its St Andrew’s Church by the Rev Gill Turner-Callis.

The plane had taken off from Heathrow Airport just before 8am on that fateful Sunday night.

As a pork salad evening meal was being served, loud bangs were heard coming from the left-hand engine.

But the captain and his co-pilot shut down the correctly-functioning right-hand engine, and the craft came down just a few hundred yards from the East Midlands Airport runway.