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17/06/13 11:42

Piper Alpha anniversary commemorations

Government to contribute £100,000 to memorial garden fund in Aberdeen

The Scottish Government is to donate £100,000 to the Pound for Piper Memorial Trust to help maintain a memorial garden to the victims of the Piper Alpha disaster.

Announced this morning by First Minister Alex Salmond during a visit to the memorial in Aberdeen’s Hazlehead Park, the money will go towards maintaining the gardens as a permanent tribute to the 167 victims of the 1988 disaster.

The funding was announced as the Scottish Government unveiled plans to mark the 25th anniversary of the disaster.

The donation will be made from money seized under proceeds of crime legislation, which is used to support worthwhile causes all across Scotland.

Mr Salmond said:

“Piper Alpha remains the world’s worst offshore platform disaster and no Scot who is old enough will ever forget hearing the news and seeing the horrifying images from that night in July 1988.

“That is especially true here in the north-east and it is appropriate that the permanent memorial to the victims is here in Aberdeen at Hazlehead Park.

“A huge amount of fundraising has already been done by families, the oil and gas industry and the local community to restore the memorial garden. The Scottish Government’s donation of £100,000 will be used to help maintain the garden in years to come, ensuring it serves as a permanent tribute.

“Almost twenty-five years on, our first obligation to the 167 men who died in the Piper Alpha tragedy remains ensuring a disaster like this is never allowed to happen again.

“Thankfully, safety in the oil and gas industry has improved massively since the recommendations made in the Cullen report, but we owe it to the memory of those who were lost to continue to make safety absolutely the first priority for workers offshore.

“This is not just a question of ensuring a rigorous safety regime and renewing infrastructure, but also ensuring we have a properly-resourced coastguard on call to save lives and making certain our public services are funded properly.

“Pound for Piper’s appeal to restore and properly maintain the memorial garden in Hazlehead Park helps ensure families and others will have a peaceful and calm place to remember their loved ones for years to come.”

Carol Banks, who set up Pound for Piper after she was moved by a TV interview she saw with the wife of a Piper Alpha survivor, who has since passed away, said:

“The aim of the Trust was to do something positive to help honour the memory of those affected by Piper Alpha and their families, and raise enough money to make the memorial gardens a place for people to reflect, contemplate and remember. This generous donation will go a long way in ensuring the gardens are maintained for years to come, long after the rededication service marking the completion of the restoration work, on July 6th.”

Shaun Liddle, a Pound for Piper Trustee, accepted the donation on behalf of the charity. He said:

“We’ve received an incredible amount of support – both financially and in spirit – from a wide variety of organisations and people from across Aberdeen and Scotland. We’re thrilled the Scottish Government has pledged this very generous amount which takes us even closer to reaching our ambitious target of £1 million.”

The donation to the Pound for Piper appeal is one of a number of commemorations by ministers of the 25th anniversary of the disaster, including Energy Minister Fergus Ewing’s attendance at the Edinburgh International Film Festival premiere of Fire in the Night – a BBC documentary made by STV – detailing the terrible events of the night through testimonies from survivors and rescuers, and ministerial attendance at Piper 25 - a three day health and safety conference being organised by Oil & Gas UK to reflect on the progress made in the industry since the tragedy. Further details of Scottish Government involvement in official commemorations planned for the anniversary itself on July 6th will be announced in the coming weeks.

Notes to editors

The Piper Alpha disaster happened on the night of 6 July 1988, when four massive explosions destroyed the Piper Alpha platform 110 miles north-east of Aberdeen. 167 men died - 165 on the platform and two on a rescue vessel. At the time, the platform was the biggest producer of oil in the north sea, turning out 120,000 barrels a day. The Cullen Report following the public inquiry was published in November 1990. It made 106 recommendations that have changed the offshore industry's health and safety culture.