The brother of a man who died in a helicopter crash 10 years ago today has spoken of the shocking moment he was told of the tragedy.
Sixteen people died when the Bond helicopter crash into the North Sea en route from an oil platform on April 1 2009 – one of the worst ever tragedies to hit the north-east.
One of those who died was father-of-two Nairn Ferrier, 40 – one of 14 oil workers and two crew on the Super Puma that was 50 minutes into a flight from the Miller Platform en route to Aberdeen International Airport.
The crash sparked a massive rescue effort involving police, lifeboat crews and search helicopters and there was a major investigation which led to big changes in helicopter safety monitoring processes.
Nairn’s brother Brian was the first relative to hear their loved one had died.
Brian told the Evening Express: “I was driving to the cinema with my kids and got a call on the way there from my friend who was a health and safety officer on one of the platforms.
“He had been listening to the radio talk and said ‘there’s been a crash and it’s bad. I think Nairn is on it’.
“He phoned me back to say ‘scrap that, it’s a false alarm’.
“I was just going back into the cinema when he called me back and said: ‘I got it wrong, it wasn’t a false alarm and Nairn was on it. You need to go home’.
“Nairn had been doing the job (with KCA Deutag Drilling) for about a year. He loved working out on the rigs, which I never understood as I disliked it.”
Nairn left a wife Katherine and children Rory, now 16, and Nairn junior, now 13.
His loved ones were among those attending a memorial event in Aberdeen today.
Brian said: “Nairn was very popular.
“He would have turned 50 in March and more than 50 of us went to his favourite pub to raise a glass in his memory.
“I visit his grave every Saturday. His friends tend to leave trinkets for him and that includes bottles of Budweiser and even bottles of bourbon, which he liked to drink.”
Nairn, of Broughty Ferry, had a “unique” fashion sense, said Brian and entertained pals when he turned up for an annual golf day one year in bright red trousers.
Since he died, friends and family have turned up to the yearly event at Monifieth Golf Club all wearing red trousers.
The event has raised more than £2,000 for the RNLI in the last decade.
Organiser Grant Withers had been a close pal of Nairn’s since they met aged 13 at Boys’ Brigade.
Grant, 50, said: “He was a really great guy and very popular and level headed.
“Every year when I put together the spreadsheet for the event, Nairn’s name is on and I won’t take it off.
“Even after all this time, I can’t delete his mobile number from my phone.”
Grant added: “It’s touching that Nairn has the ability to bring so many people together, with the golf in the daytime and a social event in the evening and we can have 90 of his friends and family coming together.”
Another KCA Deutag Drilling employee whose life was claimed in the tragedy was Brian Barkley, who lived in Aberdeen but was originally from Ballymoney in Northern Ireland.
Brian’s sister Judith said: “It has been such a long time but it doesn’t feel like it has been 10 years.
“All the family still miss Brian every day.
“With the passage of time, our family shrinks in size as people pass away but everyone remembers Brian fondly.”
Around 200 mourners gathered at Brian’s funeral, including mother Isabel Barkley, her husband Boyd and Brian’s brother Andrew and sister Judith, along with Brian’s fiancee Anna Jonassen, from Denmark,
Brian’s family asked for donations to be given to air and sea rescue in Brian’s memory.
The other KCA Deutag workers who died in the tragedy were Vernon Elrick, 41, of Aberdeen, Leslie Taylor, 41, of Kintore, Gareth Wyn Hughes, 53, of Angus, David Rae, 63, of Dumfries, Raymond Doyle, 57, of Cumbernauld, James John Edwards, 33, of Kirkby, Liverpool, Nolan Carl Goble, 34, of Norwich and Mihails Zuravskis, 39, of Latvia.
The disaster also claimed the lives of captain Paul Burnham, 31, of Methlick and co-pilot Richard Menzies, 24, of Droitwich Spa, who worked for Bond Offshore Helicopters
The other named victims were James Costello, 24, of Aberdeen, who was contracted to Production Services Network, Alex Dallas, 62, of Aberdeen, who worked for Sparrows Offshore Services, Warren Mitchell, 38, of Oldmeldrum, who worked for Weatherford and Stuart Wood, 27, of Newmachar, who worked for Expro North Sea Ltd.