PRIME Minister Gordon Brown is to attend a memorial service for North Sea helicopter crash victims, it was confirmed this afternoon.
The country’s leader will be among those paying respects at the church event in Aberdeen tomorrow.
He will be joined by Prince Charles and Camilla, Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond as well as other dignitaries.
And the dad of a helicopter crash victim today said he was honoured the Royal couple would be there.
Andrew Menzies said the service would be a “special” for him and his family.
The Super Puma accident claimed the lives of 16 men and hundreds are expected to attend the service. Mr Menzies’ co-pilot son Richard, 24, was among those killed when Bond helicopter flight 85N plunged into the North Sea around 14 miles off the coast of Peterhead.
Mr Menzies said: “It is kind of these dignitaries to attend and I will be going to the memorial service with my daughter.
“We look forward to a special day and to share some comfort with the other families, which is a necessary part of the grieving process.”
A screen is to be put up on Aberdeen’s Union Street at a point between Market Street and Union Terrace to relay the Kirk of St Nicholas service to people who cannot get into the church. The event will be held at 2pm – exactly a fortnight after the AS332L2 suffered a “catastrophic gear box failure” causing it to fall from the sky.
Richard, of Droitwich Spa in Worcestershire, was described by his father as “always happy and smiling”.
The accountancy firm partner said: “Richard was passionate about flying helicopters. He joined a very professional, committed and close-knit family of pilots at Bond Offshore Helicopters.
“I and my daughter Laura and Richard’s girlfriend want to express our thanks and support for the hugely professional team at Bond including Bill Munro, managing director, his senior colleagues and several of Richard’s fellow pilots.”
Mr Menzies added: “Richard was always smiling and always happy. He was a popular lad.”
The grief-stricken dad and his 21-year-old daughter queued with others to sign a book of condolence in Aberdeen in the days following the April 1 incident, which happened as the crew returned from BP’s Miller Platform.
He said: “We are hugely proud of Richard and the life he led. He was a charming and charismatic man, the loss of whom will be felt by many.”
The crash was the second tragedy to hit the family after Richard lost his mum Ann to cancer a few years ago.
An initial report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch said a major malfunction in the aircraft’s gearbox caused the main rotor assembly to detach.
The spinning blades then tore through the helicopter’s tail, severing it and sending the fuselage plummeting more than 2,000ft to the sea below.
However, those looking into the crash admitted exactly what caused the gearbox failure is a mystery.
Richard died alongside Bond pilot Paul Burnham, 31, of Methlick.
The other North-east men who perished were Brian Barkley, 30; James Costello, 24; Alex Dallas, 62; and Vernon Elrick, 41, all of Aberdeen; Stuart Wood, 27, of Newmachar; Warren Mitchell, 38, of Oldmeldrum; and Leslie Taylor, 41, of Kintore.
Also killed were Raymond Doyle, 57, of Cumbernauld; James Edwards, 33, of Liverpool; Nairn Ferrier, 40, of Dundee; Nolan Goble, 34, of Norwich; Gareth Hughes, 53, of Angus; David Rae, 63, of Dumfries; and Mihails Zuravskis, 39, of Latvia.
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