The heroic efforts of a North-east helicopter winchman will be remembered this weekend to mark 20 years since his death.
Bill Deacon, from Ellon, lost his life on November 19, 1997, when the vessel he was on, the Green Lily, ran aground off the coast of Shetland.
The 50-year-old was posthumously awarded the George Medal for his bravery.
He was the first member of the Coastguard service to receive the honour.
A crew of 15 were rescued by the Lerwick Lifeboat and Coastguard helicopter, but Mr Deacon was sadly swept overboard from the ship.
He was a helicopter crewman, and search and rescue specialist with 27 years’ experience, who had been commended for his part in rescues. He joined Bristow in 1987 and worked in Aberdeen and Shetland.
The Green Lily, which had been bound for the Canary Islands with a cargo of frozen fish, smashed into rocks after her engines stopped and attempts to tow her to safety failed.
Mr Deacon and the crew of the Sumburgh-based Coastguard helicopter managed to get all 10 remaining men off the boat before it broke up, but Mr Deacon was washed overboard.
A rescue operation was launched with Mr Deacon spotted briefly in the water before being lost, and efforts were stood down after it became too dangerous to continue.
He is survived by his wife Lorna and two children Alan and Emma.
Tomorrow marks 20 years since the incident.
And RNLI volunteers at Lerwick lifeboat station have organised a wreath laying at the site of the grounding.
The event will remember the heroic acts of bravery that took place to rescue the ship’s crew and will also pay respects to Mr Deacon, who lost his life moments after saving the life of the last crew member on the Green Lily’s deck.
A service of remembrance at Lerwick Museum is also set to take place tomorrow, and is due to be attended by Alan.
An eyewitness account, by journalist Jonathan Wills, recalled the fierce conditions and bravery of Mr Deacon. He said: “The winchman was a hero.
“The conditions were terrifying, particularly after the ship hit the rocks.
“But he stayed on board until he’d made sure everyone else was safe.
“He really did give his life for those crewmen.”
The aftermath of the incident saw new safety standards being implemented by Mr Deacon’s employers Bristow.
The firm designed a dual hoist which is now a standard piece of search and rescue kit across the whole industry.
Bristow also established the Billy Deacon Award in his honour which is awarded annually to winchmen and winch operators for search and rescue operations in the UK. The rescue is the last time an RNLI Gold Medal was awarded – which was received by Lerwick RNLI Coxswain Hewitt Clark.
Due to Mr Clark’s skill in handling the lifeboat, he and his crew were able to pull five crew to safety from the deck of the Green Lily in violent seas.
Speaking about the rescue at the time, the late secretary of the Lerwick Lifeboat, Magnus Shearer, said: “All rescue services that day were truly outstanding.
“When Hewitt was taking the lifeboat alongside the vessel if anything had gone wrong at any point I feel sure we would have lost the lifeboat and very possibly all the crew.
“There was absolutely no margin for error. I’m very proud of Hewitt and very proud of our crew and I think they’re a tremendous credit to the RNLI and everything it stands for.”