Friday, 19 August 2016

Remembering Shoreham

It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly 12 months since the Shoreham Airshow tragedy.

I am very aware for the families, relatives and friends who lost people on that day, these last 12 months will have been the hardest they’ve ever lived through and my heart goes out to them. There hasn’t been hardly a day that’s passed where they haven’t been on my mind.

As I write this we are making final preparations for how we will remember the 11 victims on August 22, 2016. How, as a council, we will pay our respects in a way befitting of the dignity with which the families and relatives have carried themselves over the last year.

None of us will ever forget them. And we will never forget the way our communities rallied in the face of such unprecedented tragedy. Last week I visited the Record Office with Tim Loughton MP and two of the volunteers who had tended the flowers on the Bridge to see the enormous progress made on the Digital Archive. The messages were as emotional as was last year. But it was truly inspiring to see the dedicated, caring work undertaken by some amazing volunteers, the County

Archivist and Conservator to ensure this tragic but important part of West Sussex’s history is preserved for today, tomorrow and centuries to come.

Although I might be the Leader of West Sussex County Council and – proudly - hold the responsibilities that position demands of me, but on that day I admit to being  one of thousands absolutely shocked and brought to tears by the scenes in Shoreham. Yet so humbled, moved and extremely grateful for the amazing work undertaken by all the emergency services, unstintingly supported by St John’s, and Red Cross.

At 1.22pm, the exact time of the crash one year ago, I will lay flowers in memory of the 11 who died and staff across our council offices and firefighters at our fire stations will fall silent.

Those flowers and that silence represent my deep respect, my grief, my pride and my sincere gratitude to all the emergency services and everyone who has done so much to support the families, friends, relatives and this community whose lives were irrevocably changed on August 22, 2015.

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