Special 20th anniversary service held to honour victims of 'tragic' Great Yarmouth helicopter crash

A special church service has been held to remember the victims of a helicopter crash - exactly 20 years to the day since the tragedy unfolded.

On July 16 2002, a Sikorsky helicopter, charted by Shell, fell hundreds of feet into the North Sea about 25 miles off Great Yarmouth.

All 11 people on board were killed, including seven from Norfolk and Suffolk.

To mark the 20th anniversary, a memorial service took place at Great Yarmouth Minster on Saturday afternoon.

Among those leading the service was Rev Peter Paine, who had only just started his role as the town's port chaplain when the crash happened.

Great Yarmouth's port chaplain, Rev Peter Paine. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Rev Paine promised the victim's families that he would keep the memories of their loved ones alive, and he has stayed true to his word.

"This is a loss that no one could see, no one thought about," he told ITV News Anglia.

"I'd been working with helicopters for over 18 years in the Air Force and nothing happened. So, this was a real tragic loss."

Among the sizable congregation for the service was Rebecca Dack, whose father Philip Stone was one of the 11 men who died in the crash.

Mrs Dack was aged just seven when she lost her dad.

Philip Stone (left) and his daughter Rebecca (right). Credit: Rebecca Dack/ITV News Anglia

"I do try and spot the fellow children because we spent a lot of time together. You're all involved in the courts, and the ceremonies, and everything like that," she said.

"I was seven at the time, so I don't think I quite comprehended the scale of it. But now I'm older, I understand more, and can appreciate everything - all the memorials we have now."

One of those memorials is a special porch which contains 11 rotor blades - each one displaying the name of someone who died.

The porch was erected by Shell, for whom three of the men worked for.

A special wreath was laid by the town's mayor. Credit: ITV News Anglia

On Saturday, 11 candles were lit in front of the porch to honour the victims, while the Mayor of Great Yarmouth also laid a wreath.

"It shows that we remember, and that we care for those people offshore," said Great Yarmouth Mayor, Cllr Graham Plant.

"We know that they're working in a dangerous situation, we've seen rigs go up and we've seen helicopters come down. They're in a dangerous situation all the time, and we just want them to know that we are thinking of them all the time."

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