Remembering the Kegworth Air Disaster

Remembering the Kegworth Air Disaster

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Colleagues have joined fellow emergency workers today at a memorial service to remember those killed in the tragic events of the Kegworth Air Disaster 30 years ago.

Many retired members of staff and colleagues still in the service who attended the aftermath of the disaster, and others who remember the incident happening, attended the memorial service at St Andrew’s Church in Kegworth this morning.

Our colleagues joined survivors of the crash, the families of the victims, and personnel from police, fire and council who responded to the tragic incident in laying wreaths at the cemetery.

Forty-seven people died when the Boeing 737-400 flight from London to Belfast crashed on the embankment of the M1 at Kegworth while attempting an emergency landing at East Midlands Airport on 8 January 1989. Thanks to the bravery of many members of the public and skill and tireless work of the emergency services, 79 people survived, although many were seriously injured.

Patricia Withers, Clinical Operations Manager for Narborough, who has worked in the ambulance service for 37 years, was one of the first ones on scene at the air disaster.

She has been working for Leicestershire Ambulance Service for seven years when the plane went down. 

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Patricia said: “We sometimes get false alarms for planes in difficulty coming into East Midlands Airport, but this one was different – we were told that we had a plane down, and it was on the motorway.

“As we were travelling to it, I just had this vision of the carnage we were going to face, and then that was realised when we arrived. It was horrific.

“The fire service had covered it in foam, and it just looked like snow. We were in skirts in those days, which made it more difficult trying to get up the embankment to where the casualties were.”

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Patricia was due to finish at 10pm that day, but it was 3am hours by the time she was stood down, and she was back in work the next day.

She added: “I took three patients to hospital. I also took the passenger to hospital who later went to London to fight for compensation for all the passengers. I remember seeing him on TV outside the Houses of Parliament, and I realised ‘I helped that man’. I met up with him while he was still at Leicester Royal Infirmary undergoing treatment before being transferred to Belfast.

 “It doesn’t feel like 30 years since it happened, but I often think about the people who were there that day and wonder what happened to them.

“The whole day was surreal, and something that I hope I never experience again.”