January 4, 2017 at 8:46 am #848170
Following on from the good chat with Patrix FAK!58 audio and links and comments
perhaps any research can be dumped here.
The list of victims of the 1987 Herald of Free Enterprise “disaster” – 193 – is here
the usual profiles, children out of school, mainly working class victims, thanks to a Sun newspaper cruise promotion. I looked as a sample population, the 18 victims from South Essex, East of London. Up came this interesting story – two divorces with two “victims”, one from each and the two surviving partners marry each other shortly afterwards!
The surviving remarried widow has only just died in May 2016, having moved away from the area shortly after her 1989 marriage in 1991.
Mr and Mrs Gudgeon met through the Herald Families Association, became good friends and married in August 1989. They have lived in Stoke Holy Cross since 1991.
We will miss her smile, her ‘Mum’s little sayings’ and her character.
Her 20th anniversary story is here
The memories live on
10:02 07 March 2007
I bet they do.
Mr Gudgeon, 71, lost his wife Eileen, then 49. Mrs Gudgeon lost her husband Norman, 49; her 27-year-old daughter Sharon, and three-week-old granddaughter Rebecca.
Mrs Gudgeon, 67, was one of only three of 53 diners in the ship’s restaurant to survive the disaster. She said: “I remember the boat tilted and the sweet trolley went flying and the gateaux were all over the floor…
There was no probate on Norman’s estate. The family name of Norman, and Irene through her first marriage, was Blanchard
Mr Gudgeon, vice-chairman of South Norfolk District Council, had gone on the trip with his wife Eileen, their daughter Josephine and her husband Rob, then both 26.
He was sitting in the café one deck below the restaurant waiting for his wife and daughter to come back from the duty free shop.
“I don’t remember anything else until I woke up in hospital,” said Mr Gudgeon.
At first he did not know what had happened to his wife of 28 years, but discovered her body in a temporary morgue a few days later.
“I found out later that Eileen was the fourth body to come out of the ship.
A familiar pattern, and 9/11 is over 14 years away.
Probate relating to the first Mrs Gudgeon:
Eileen Josephine Gudgeon of Toad Hall, South Hanningfield Way, Runwell £2184 Administration [no will and in very quick time] May 12 1987March 7, 2017 at 5:56 am #848626
Big BBC fanfare for the 30th anniversary, said to be the last one before the event slides undisturbed into the history books.What’s new?
‘I was swimming among dead bodies’ – Express writer was ONBOARD Zeebrugge ferry disaster
note the lazarus style awakening of the woman towards the end of the video there on told some good news…
by Simon Osborne
I was on that ill-fated crossing on the Herald of Free Enterprise with seven school friends from Hinckley in Leicestershire.We’d made a similar journey a year earlier …the ship slipped out of Zeebrugge harbour onto a dark, still sea….the people around me that had been shouting out were slowly, quietly, succumbing to hypothermia in the icy waters of the North Sea.
I was soon surrounded by dead bodies and it became clear that I had to make a move to improve my chances of survival.
So I began to pull myself through the bodies.. I inched my way forward and eventually found myself under a broken window. By this time searchlights had been lowered into the upturned vessel and I was spotted by a frogman who dragged me the last few feet and put a rope harness under my arms. I was winched to safety
Back in 2012, Simon was wheeled out with his story to coincide with the Costa Concordia psy-op
A survivor of a ferry disaster which claimed 193 lives – including two of his best friends – has told how watching the sinking of the Costa Concordia brought back memories of the fear and terror he experienced. watched in disbelief as the drama of the Italian cruise liner unfolded at the weekend after it struck a rock off the coast of Tuscany.
Simon, now 43 and running his own fishmongers’ business in Ealing, West London, it brought back memories of the fateful night, in March 1987, when the Herald of Free Enterprise ferry capsized 20 minutes outside the Belgian port of Zeebrugge after the bow doors were mistakenly left open.
Mr Osborne, then a 19-year-old barman living in Hinckley, was with seven friends on a national newspaper’s £1 day trip to Belgium.
The eight had forged strong links while in the sixth-form at John Cleveland College.
Wayne Sculthorpe, 19, of Leicester, and Gary Lloyd, 19, of Hinckley, died in the disaster.
Former Leicester Mercury and ITN journalist Simon Osborne
What about the opther five friends’ stories? They are not mentioned.
Whom does the BBC wheel out?
Gillian Lashbrooke was one of the first people to know something was wrong. She was 16 years old. Her mother, stepfather and uncle died in the accident while she and her three stepbrothers survived.
“I was wearing long boots and a denim coat, they were so heavy they were dragging me down. I struggled to take off my boots and coat while I was still trying to swim.
“I thought I’d try to swim back to land. But it was so cold and the waves were so ferocious. I swam back to the boat and managed to hook my skirt on to a thing sticking out from the boat because the waves were dragging me down, and I needed to stay up.
“That night I became an adult. I washed my clothes out in the sink and put them on a radiator to dry. I prayed for my mum, hoping I was praying for her and not speaking to her.”
The following day Ms Lashbrooke and her stepbrothers were told their parents were dead. They were taken to a makeshift mortuary in a gym.
The child shot – has she been near any water?
An everlasting memorial….
The bell of the Herald of Free Enterprise will be presented to Dover during a short ceremony on Monday, March 6, when the 193 victims of the disaster are remembered.
It’s owner, a resident in Belgium, contacted The Dover Society who organised for it to be presented to St Mary’s Church where it is proposed it will hang next to the Herald memorial window.
The bell was originally rescued from the sunken ferry by one of the Belgian divers and handed to the Belgian donor.
Any more stories?
One of the survivors was Andy Bridge, who was 19 and living in Clent, near Stourbridge at the time.
He was one of seven young friends from the Black Country heading back to England after a fun day out on a £1 return fare deal.
He was travelling with friends Lawson Fisher, Ian Moore, Andrew Dingley, Alan Cartwright, all 18, Ian Wood, 21, and his 18-year-old brother, Nick.[Wood]
“We held onto our seats but a woman fell past me. She fell 70 or 80 feet into a window at the bottom.
“The lights went off and the water started rising. It came up to my chest and I thought I was going to die, but it stopped.
er, the boat’s on its side??
The friends lost touch within months of the tragedy but many are thought to still live in the West Midlands.
Five years ago Mr Fisher was running his own floor laying business, Mayfair Floors Ltd, in Stourbridge.
Zeebrugge – how seven Black Country lads survived the disaster
They became known as The Magnificent seven after cheating death
Actually, that Birmingham Mail article is a rehashing of yet another 2012 Costa Concordia psy-op bolstering piece [the carpet business is still running…]
Mr Fisher now runs his own floor laying business, Mayfair Floors Ltd, in Stourbridge.
He previously told how he felt lucky to have survived, but his mother, Pat, said yesterday that he was too distraught to speak about the tragedy.
“It’s still too raw for him,” she said.
Mr Bridge said January’s Costa Concordia disaster, when 32 people were left dead or missing, revived memories of that terrible night 25 years ago.
And we always need a hero in these events, again re-emerging for the anniversary…one from Ireland..
Truck driver Larry O’Brien from Campile in Wexford made it on board the Herald of Free Enterprise with just minutes to spare before it left the Belgian port for Dover at 7pm on March 6th, 1987 , and he ended up a reluctant hero.
“I was the last truck on,” Mr O’Brien, a Fine Gael councillor, told The Irish Times ahead of Monday’s anniversary.
“I looked around me at the panic and the chaos. Even at that stage there were actually bodies floating in the water.
“I eventually got myself out. I was on the side of the ship, the hull…He sat down, realised there was no-one else on the outside and then thought he had to start doing something. “Whatever mode I got into or put myself in, I got up and there was a big rope hanging on the side so I picked it up and threw it back in the porthole window.”
After several minutes he had pulled out three or four men, who then started helping him. At least 30, and probably up to 40, lives were saved by O’Brien and the others. After about 45 minutes, the emergency services began to arrive and eventually the survivors were brought back to port.
He gave up driving in 1988 and became a car sales manager in New Ross, was later elected to Wexford County Council. Two years ago he returned to continental driving with National Vehicle Distribution, collecting trucks from Europe and bringing them back to Ireland.
He returned to Zeebrugge soon after the tragedy to see his truck when the ship was raised. “It was only scrap.
A true fisher of men.March 7, 2017 at 4:42 pm #848627
Psyopticon in the chat has pointed out the predictable wheeling out for duty of ex lorry driver and haulier Brian Gibbons [for the last time, he’ll be relieved to know]
Brian was, foreshadowing 9/11 “escapee” William Rodrigues and his own tall tale, “last man out” of the Herald of Free Enterprise [193 dead, allegedly the worst peacetime British maritime disaster in living memory.] after seven hours.
Brian, second from right in blue shirt and time, handing over the Bell of Free Enterprise in Dover church
Brian, in the following video, says he feels both lucky and guilty…
Back in 1987, a public inquiry was announced within a few days to keep the lawyers busy.
Three truck drivers who had been aboard the ferry, bound for Dover in England, said it left port 10 to 15 minutes late because the crew was having trouble closing the doors.
”They were even trying to close them with sledgehammers,’‘ said one driver, Ian Calderwood.
”The boat started taking in water as soon as she took off. The hold was flooding … . I’m certain this disaster happened because she took in too much water,” he said.
”As the captain made a right-hand turn to avoid the sand bank outside the harbor, all the water shifted to one side and turned the boat over,” Calderwood said. ”There was no noise, no bang. We didn’t hit anything.”
Fellow survivor Brian Gibbons, 39, said, ”They put out three emergency calls for the ship’s carpenter. Then all of a sudden, the boat turned over.”
Where was truck driver Ian Calderwood in 2017?
Brian was wheeled out in 2012 for the 25th anniversary
Now 64 and retired, the former truck driver lives in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. “We thought they didn’t know we were there because it was five, six, seven hours until we got rescued. It’s a long time when you can’t see what is happening, because it was pitch black. I didn’t think I would make it. Afterwards, I found it very difficult to talk to people who had lost loved ones because of the enormous guilt of surviving when others hadn’t. In the early years there wouldn’t be a day go past when I wouldn’t think about it; now it’s every two or three months I go quiet.”
The same guilt story also wheeled out with him.
There is one story of astonishing bravery, allegedly, in that story…
Andrew Parker lay across a damaged walkway and formed a human bridge allowing 20 people to walk to safety. He was awarded the George Medal for his bravery. Now 58, he works as a property manager overseas and shuns publicity.
but no guilt.
I notice that Andrew PArker GM “assistant finance manager at a city bank who was in the ship’s cafe with his family” [before his disappearance from public view] is cited in this book from 2014. I bet Parker wasn’t on a £1 booze cruise…he doesn’t seem to fit in with the average passenger profile.
which is probably the best dictionary available of psy-ops from the past
Collective Conviction: The Story of Disaster Action
By Anne Eyre, Pam Dix
Hmmm, that’s one to get hold of, perhaps, for a deeper insight into the minds of the disaster planners and recruiters.March 7, 2017 at 4:51 pm #848628
Last check in for Ian Calderwood…
March 14, 1987
A Stranraer family had an anxious wait this week when Ian Calderwood, formerly of the town, was the last man pulled alive from the stricken Townsend Thoresen ferry Herald of Free Enterprise after it capsized moments after leaving the Belgian port of Zeebrugge, killing 193 passengers and crew. Long distance lorry driver, Mr Calderwood, 44, who now lives in Dagenham, Essex, survived a nine-hour ordeal in freezing conditions inside the upturned ferry before being winched free by divers, who told him he was lucky to be alive. Mr Calderwood’s daughter Alison sat up with her husband until 3.30 in the morning waiting to hear if her father was one of the survivors.
Married daughter still keeping abreast with her father’s daily haulage movements. Touching.
Straight onto TV with the other “key survivors” for the reciting of the narrative
Back to results
CAPSIZED CAR FERRY/SURVIVORS:
}141431 CAPSIZED CAR FERRY/SURVIVORS: A look at the heroes of the
9.3.87 ‘Herald of Free Enterprise’ the Townsend Thoresen car ferry
TX which capsized off Zeebrugge on 6.3.87. Intvws Nicky Delo
(Steward), Ian Calderwood (Lorry Driver), Andrew and Janice
Parker (Father and daughter survivors)June 19, 2017 at 5:18 pm #849658
Just spinning a disc by Canadian troubador Gordon Lightfoot I thought I’d have a look at the subject of one of his biggest  hits…The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald based on a true life…..hoax imho. The ship sank on November 10 1975, the biggest ore carrier on the Great Lakes out of Duluth.
29 dead at the bottom of the sea, except there was no trace of them until….mysteriously 20 years later; no photos, of course, must respect the “loved ones” in true psy-op style but we have plenty of memorials, including the “recovered” bell.
“Scott was almost expecting a body…we’ve been at a funeral home a week ago to visit a friend….” hmmmm
The wreck is well ring-fenced by the Ontario government.November 29, 2018 at 7:22 pm #856529
Returning to FAK158 I realise I never got round to scrutinising the all-important UK “survivor” from the MS Estonia, Paul Barney.
And reading between the lines of Heiwa’s blog I get the feeling that he accepts the official narrative that people died in the MS Estonia
a variant on the 9/11 ‘don’t believe the official story’ routine but people really died.
Barney was widely quoted at the time. He seems to have a NE Indian wife
Paul Barney is the owner of Edulis Nursery, situated in a Victorian walled garden near Pangbourne, Berkshire. Paul has a special interest in a wide range of edible plants from all over the world, and also grows many unusual plants. He is also a landscape designer.
Tweets by PaulEdulis
[no mention of Estonia there **]
** however in 2011 in the Telegraph
His big break came when he did a garden for the record producer Trevor Horn. Things were looking good, but then on a trip hunting unusual willows in Scandinavia in 1994 Paul was shipwrecked on the Estonia, and found himself the only British survivor of one of the worst maritime disasters of the 20th century. “That was a bit of a setback,” he says calmly.
er, why a setback?
Several contemporary reports from Paul…
e.g NYT 9/30/94
“The boat lurched really severely,” said Paul Barney, an Englishman who was sleeping when the ship ran into trouble. “I was thrown off my bed and things started to slide in the cabin. I tried to make my way up to the exit but that got harder as the ship started to list more and more.”
When he reached the top deck, Mr. Barney said, there were no life jackets available. He said he made it into a lifeboat with 11 other people, but that only six of them survived as they spent seven hours in the rough seas waiting to be rescued.
“Hope was beginning to disappear because the weather got really severe,” he said of the long hours until a pilot saw them at daybreak. “There were seven- and eight-feet waves coming over us. Every time we got slightly warmer, we got drenched again.”
UPI Sept 29 1994
Paul Barney, 35, was one of those saved by the [diverted Viking Line ferry en route from Stockholm to Helsinki] Mariella crew. ‘The moon was up, and I saw a life raft. I managed to swim to it. I was so thankful I was able to get on the raft, even though it was upside down and filled with water,’ he said. Of about a dozen people on the raft, only six survived the next hour or so until the Mariella arrived. ‘It was horrible, but I felt I wasn’t finished with life. ”
When Barney first came back to Britain he was the man who wanted others be rescued first before him. He was the Brit who tried to save a dying Estonian girl….He had an affair….buying his own house, with the compensation money….. he is off again travelling…
or The Week Feb 13 2009 with a finely crafted narrative
On Sept. 28, 1994, Paul Barney was making an overnight trip from Estonia to Sweden by car ferry. To save around $40, the 35-year-old British landscape architect had decided against taking a cabin below deck and instead planned to camp out in one of the open spaces of the sprawling 15,000-ton ship. Around 11 p.m., as the ship, christened the Estonia, pushed into a storm, he settled down with his sleeping bag in a perfect spot inside the cafe on Deck 5, at the vessel’s stern. He awoke around 1 a.m. to a sudden bang.
The ship was listing dramatically to its right. Tables and chairs began to slide. At first, Barney wondered if the vessel had run aground. Then he realized that the ferry wasn’t swaying and that the tilt of the deck was steadily increasing. “So I thought, We’ve got to do something about that,” he says.
Barney was always pretty good at what he calls “orienting” himself. He decided the best place to get more solid footing and figure out an escape plan was the doorway between the cafe and the promenade deck. As the ship tipped even more, he maneuvered around the door frame to stay standing. From this precarious perch, he attempted to redraw a mental map of the ship, but his brain struggled to keep up with so much confusing information. With dishes and glasses crashing everywhere, he knew one thing for sure: The boat wasn’t suddenly going to right itself. There wasn’t any lifesaving equipment around, and the captain and crew weren’t providing any emergency instructions. “I realized that this was quite a desperate situation,” Barney says, “and I was quite likely to die.”
Barney expected to see passengers scrambling for their lives. He imagined scenes of bedlam, with people clawing for life preservers and fighting for the lifeboats. Instead, he encountered something truly strange: Many fellow passengers seemed unable to do anything at all. “People were just not moving,” he says. “They were frozen to the spot, almost waiting to be told what to do.” As the lights flicked on and off, they looked like marble statues, pale and immovable.
“Why don’t they do something?” he asked an Estonian man who was sharing the door frame with him as the ship listed ever more steeply.
“Just don’t think about it,” the man replied.
That man didn’t make it to a lifeboat, but Barney did. After pulling some warm clothes from his backpack and taking off his boots—(he didn’t want to end up wearing them in the water), he clambered upward on a latticework of ceiling pipes and vents and found himself standing alone atop the massive hull of the side-turned Estonia. A half-moon cast some light on his surreal surroundings. Despite gale-force winds and waves crashing from every direction, he was able to creep 500 feet across the porthole-pocked surface of the ship to join a group of passengers who were launching an inflatable life raft.
Of the 16 who boarded the raft, 10 died of hypothermia that night.
Hmmm, originally 12 in a lifeboat, of which 6 died…
and in 2005 a good old conspiracy story at the New Statesman, supporting the nearly 900 deaths narrative, but based on a verifiable fact that…
The subsequent Estonia Agreement 1995 sought to prevent any exploration of the wreck, which lies in international waters. The agreement was signed by Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Denmark, Russia and, strangely, Britain, which has no obvious connection to the Baltic. One Briton, John Manning **, died in the disaster; a second, Paul Barney of Pangbourne, Berkshire, survived after swimming to an upturned raft and clinging on in stormy seas until he was rescued.
Other non-Baltic countries with passengers on the ferry did not become signatories to the treaty. Two requests under the Freedom of Information Act to the Foreign Office in London, for background and briefing papers on why Britain signed the treaty, have produced no reply.
What caused the secrecy about the disaster and why was Britain so closely involved?
Perhaps because #NDNGH
** John William Manning died Sept 28 1994; Grant of probate without will, Leeds, December 9 1997 [born 1931, aged 63, a typical retirement age profile.
from the list of dead
The annual mass grieving event, 2018, 24th anniversary
https://news.err.ee/864942/gallery-victims-of-ms-estonia-sinking-remembered-in-tallinnFebruary 17, 2019 at 7:13 pm #857104
Finally someone is looking with curiosity at the official narrative of the Zeebrugge staged #HRDPAR when 193 people #DND and #NGH
All very non-committal but worth a view. An interesting suggestion that it was a Channel Tunnel ‘push’
Well…Zeebrugge me! Old news is still worth a look.
Published on 16 Feb 2019February 18, 2019 at 12:09 pm #857109
Whom does the BBC wheel out?
Gillian Lashbrooke was one of the first people to know something was wrong. She was 16 years old. Her mother, stepfather and uncle died in the accident while she and her three stepbrothers survived.
From 1.05 in the above video, Amazing Grace finds another release of Gillian’s 30 year old “testimony” at the Sun newspaper
In fact she was doing the rounds all over the media – ITV, Mirror as well…
The ITV daytime show brought together Gillian Lashbrooke and Lisa Ladybird – who first met 30 years ago when the boat capsized.
The tragic incident saw the death of 193 passengers and crew but Gillian and Lisa, four at the time, survived.
Being interviewed on Good Morning Britain, Gillian said: “I swam back into the boat and there was a lady there with a child.
“She told me it wasn’t her child, she just grabbed hold of this little girl and ran, and jumped into the sea with her.”
She added: “I swam out to see if I could grab some attention because the helicopter couldn’t see us.
“When I saw a fishing boat I waved my arms, and they came over and pulled me up into the boat. She shouted please Gillian don’t leave us.
But Gillian has no idea if the woman and young girl survived or not.
Among those attending [a church service in Dover] will be Kim Spooner, whose aunt and uncle Neil [Peter] “Billy” Spooner, 37, and Mary Smith, 44, died after taking advantage of a cut-price Continental day-trip offer in a newspaper.
Ms Spooner, 38, from Essex, said: “I was eight years old at the time and I can remember it like it was yesterday.
“I knew that it was something absolutely terrible.
and as reported in the Sun [same ITV broadcast….only one narrative, no mistakes]
Get the tissues! Good Morning Britain viewers left in floods of tears after emotional first reunion between two survivors of the Zeebrugge Ferry disaster
Gillian Lashbrooke and Lisa Ladybird survived the disaster
The video of this staged meeting is here
Let’s unravel the complex family tree of Gillian for a start.
Mother Eileen A Marrion married Ian K Baddeley b 1933 in 1974 near Liverpool.
David Robert Baddeley b 1979, Liverpool
Previously, Ian K Baddeley married Noreen Aldred in 1964 – four children:
Births Dec 1964
BADDELEY IAN M ALDRED LIVERPOOL N. 10D 397
Births Mar 1968
BADDELEY PAUL VINCENT ALDRED LIVERPOOL S 10D 934
Births Mar 1969
BADDELEY MARK ANDREW ALDRED LIVERPOOL S. 10D 878
Births Jun 1972
BADDELEY COLIN ANTONY ALDRED LIVERPOOL 10D 1164
Noreen may have been previously married.
Twelive years earlier Eileen A Whitworth had married Alan Marrion in 1964. Gillian Estelle Marrion was born in 1971, 16 years before the “disaster” with no apparent siblings, and married Richard Lashbrooke in 1994.
Alan Marrion b 1944 married  Patricia Webster in 1977 [no issue]
Who were the uncle and three step-brothers who “died”?
Ian Keith and Eileen Ann Baddeley “died” at Zeebrugge.
David Leonard Whitworth “died”
A further brother Allen J Whitworth b.1949 seems not to be involved.
It’s not immediately apparent from the lists who the step-brothers are.
But we see the tell-tale signs of complete family relocations.
Elsie Hartley, 65, of Derbyshire. Passenger.
Hazel Hartley, 38, of Derbyshire. Passenger.
Joseph Hartley, 65, of Derbyshire. Passenger.
Richard Hartley, 31, of Derbyshire. Passenger.
who seemed to have travelled far, as had the Liverpool grouping.
One interesting stand-alone ‘victim’ is Passenger
Lea Pennicard, 18 of Essex, d. of James and Gillian, siblings of Jason J. and Sara.
Interesting comments in this footie forum
Horrible period of disasters.
Kings Cross fire / Marshioness / football disasters / Midlands plane crash
er, yes, all of them analysed at Fakeologist.
I remember the girl at Hall Mead [school] going Eddie. [viz – Lea Pennicard]
It’s just heartbreaking to read the repetition of surnames when families lost multiple members, especially this one **
Sharon Horton, 28, of Essex. Passenger.
Rebecca [Catherine] Horton, 23 days, of Essex. Passenger.
How that mum must have scrapped to save her baby.
One of my good mates at the time lost his mum and sister on it. His dad died a year later he survived it.
Rip the Howard’s ***
** Gerald Kevin Horton b 1953 d 1988 Penzance/overseas 1987. no UK probate
Sharon Horton of 26 Heeswyk Road, Canvey Island. “overseas or forces marriage, 1987]
*** Anna Elizabeth Howard, 46, of east London. Passenger. nee McCaffrey m 1966.
Catherine Joyce Howard, 2I, of east London. Passenger. b 1965
19 Ladysmith Ave, London E6 probate not exceeding £40K, with a further grant on April 17 1989 of £30,000. [see below]
Father Leslie Henry Howard 1936-1988 of 49 Gregory Road, Chadwell Heath, Romford, died May 14 1988, probate March 31 1989 £93,426February 19, 2019 at 5:43 am #857112
Hoax management of the Zeebrugge “disaster”
Mrs Pat Fisher **
Clauses Noted: 1
Publication: Daily Mirror
Mrs Pat Fisher complained on behalf of her son Lawson that the headline to an article reporting his experience of the Zeebrugge ferry disaster had inaccurately claimed that her son had said that he had kicked others out of his way. As the text of the article had clarified, Lawson Fisher had in fact indicated that he was still haunted by having to kick off those who had grabbed his legs.
The complaint was resolved when the editor wrote to Lawson Fisher, apologising for the upset caused by the headline.
I can’t find the Mirror piece, but we find a 2008 interview with Fisher in the Birmingham Sunday Mercury
LAWSON Fisher was just 18 when he set off for a day trip to Belgium with six pals.
The group had spotted a cheap ferry deal to travel from Dover to the port of Zeebrugge for just pounds 1.
Little did they know that their bargain trip on the Herald of Free Enterprise would turn into the most terrifying experience of their lives.
A total of 193 people died after the ferry capsized as it attempted to sail with its bow doors open on March 6, 1987.
A public inquiry identified a “disease of sloppiness” and negligence at every level of the Townsend Thoresen company which ran the crossing, following the disaster.
Most damning of all, it was revealed a crew member responsible for shutting the bow doors had been asleep when the ship set sail.
Lawson still remembers the screams of panic as the sloshing, icy waters flooded into the vessel pulling it down, drowning its passengers.
The dad-of-one recalled: “We had enjoyed a great day out in Belgium, playing pool and visiting the local sites with the lads.
“We were on the way back, about a mile away from the docks, when all hell broke loose.
“I was in the bar playing pool with a few of my friends when the boat just tipped over. It was around 6pm and it was pitch dark as all the lights went off.
“It wasn’t a very rough sea but it was as though the momentum from all the water that had seeped in from the open bow doors had caused it to capsize.
“People standing on one side of the room literally just fell the whole width to the other side.
“I remember hearing the duty free shop go. There was an almighty crash as all the bottles were flung off the shelves.
“I lost contact with all my friends. But I was a fit young lad at the time and my instinct for survival just kicked in.”
As the ferry began to sink, terrible tragedies began to unfold in the darkness.
Lawson said: “There were dead bodies everywhere. Others were struggling to get past hordes of life jackets that were bobbing around, stopping people from getting out.
“I felt people grabbing at my legs. I turned to help, but couldn’t’s see where they were.
“When I eventually clambered outside, I helped pull some people through the port holes. Eventually someone put me onto a tug and I was taken ashore.
“I was the first one to land and panicked when I couldn’t see the rest of the lads, but slowly we all found each other.
“We were the lucky ones. We were the biggest group to survive.”
Lawson had travelled with Ian Moore, Andrew Dingley, Alan Cartwright, all 18, Andy Bridge, 19, Ian Wood, 21 and his 18 year-old brother Nick.
He now runs his own floor laying business, Mayfair Floors Ltd, but says the experience all those years ago continues to haunt him.
Lawson said: “I rang my parents when I got ashore, but they hadn’t got a clue what was going on or that I had come so close to death.
“At first my dad thought my car had broken down. When they eventually realised what had happened they were distraught.
“I will think about all those who died on Thursday and remember how lucky I am.
“I don’t like travelling since that night – particularly flying.
It’s the idea of not being in control. When you’re driving a car you are in control, but you’re not if you fly or travel by boat.”
Six months after the disaster, a verdict of unlawful killing on a selected four victims was returned by an inquest jury.
In September 1990, an Old Bailey trial began with eight defendants, including the ferry company and three former directors, facing manslaughter charges.
One month later the case collapsed after the judge directed the jury to acquit the defendants.
Fisher was one of the “magnificent seven” [see earlier post]
Fuzzy photo [Birmingham Mail 2012] of Andy Bridge, one of the Magnificent Seven, on the occasion for the 25th anniversary recapitulation of the drill narrative
which includes images of the original 1987 stories in the Birmingham Evening Mail
** runs Mayfair Floors Ltd with her son
Ian Moore “recovering”
The Mag 7
February 20, 2019 at 7:35 pm #857129
Wrapping up this Herald of Free Enterprise psy-op until, perhaps, the 50th anniversary in 2037…
A couple of interviews I have missed – but note some of the same old trusted “witnesses” on the circuit.
March 2012 – 25th anniversary
Simon Osborne and seven of his friends were returning from a day trip to Belgium when the ferry capsized.
He was trapped inside the ship and managed to survive the disaster, which claimed the lives of two friends
none of whom are named in the article…
Mr Osborne described the scene onboard as the ship went over.
“It was a scene of unbelievable terror,” he said. “There were people, chairs, tables and litter bins the contents of the perfume counter just raining down.”
“I found myself rooted to the spot in sheer terror and disbelief at what was happening.”
“I floated up with the water, in the dark, and thought for a few minutes that I was going to drown, that I was going to perish there in the ship,” he said.
He made his way to below one of the broken windows, through the debris and bodies floating in the water.
By that time, there were rescue teams with divers onboard, and he was quickly put in a harness and winched onto the side of the ferry.
Do we have any heroes?
Sure do. [posthumous]
The George Medal was awarded to head waiter, Michael Skippen, who died trying to get passengers to safety and to Andrew Parker, who formed a human bridge to allow others to cross to safety.
See foregoing for news about Parker and his easing away from the limelight.
I hadn’t noticed that key “survivor” Brian Gibbons had been wheeled out in 2006 for an airing of the official narrative pre-the 2007 20th anniversary
Now, on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the disaster, he recalls the six terrifying hours he spent within the ship. A down-to-earth family man, Brian (58) has no desire to exaggerate the drama of his experience and tells his story matter-of-factly.
Brian was in a drivers cabin which, ironically, was below the water line while the ferry was upright. “The next thing I heard was the intake of water. It was a sound I’ll never forget, exactly like you’d expect to hear in those Hollywood movies.
“I remember a smell of sewerage and fumes as the water came in, and the lights went out. I remember thinking I had to get out of the cabin as we were tipping over.” Wearing only his underwear, he found himself trapped with two other lorry drivers, both of whom were injured **. In pitch darkness, he located some pipes and realised he could use his watch as a means of alerting rescuers “I just started tapping away, but I couldn’t tell you how long I was down there for. “Lots of things were going though my mind. I was wondering if I’d ever see my family again, or if I’d live to see my next birthday. “At the end of the day it was just mind over matter. You tell yourself that if you’re still breathing then you’ve got a chance of surviving. “After a short while I heard someone tapping on the other side and we all started screaming for help.” After six hours, he was found and winched to safety before being taken to the nearest hospital. He had survived, but his ordeal was far from over. It would take years for Brian to come to terms with what had happened to him and he threw himself into his work.
** not named
Onto 2017 –
Brian Gibbons more than 10 years on [q.v.] was feeling guilty he survived. Guilty, not lucky….
— ITV News Central (@ITVCentral) March 6, 2017
source Melton Times, 2017 with the watch which saved his life….
“I kept tapping my watch on the pipes to try to tell the rescuers where I was. “As pieces broke off the watch I put them in my underpants. “I kept the watch and the pieces when I was winched to safety by a helicopter. “And when I got home the Melton Times did a story on what happened and they framed the watch for me.”
Married to Sharon, the couple have six children and 11 grandchildren.
And finally from Dave Gudgeon to complement other releases above…
Dave and second wife Irene
Three decades after escaping one of the biggest peace time maritime disasters in British history when the Herald of the Free Enterprise capsized in Zeebrugge harbour, killing almost 200, survivor Dave Gudgeon has been hit by a second tragedy.
His first wife Eileen had perished in the waters which flooded the Townsend Thoresen ferry on March 6, 1987, and the 81-year-old found solace in a fellow survivor, Irene. **
And after 27 years of marriage, she died in 2016 after succumbing to dementia.
On the 30th anniversary of the disaster in which 193 people lost their lives, Mr Gudgeon, of Stoke Holy Cross, recalled: “There was talk of heroes that night, but I didn’t see many. My daughter was the only one I saw.”
He had taken the £1 day trip across the North Sea with Eileen, then 49, daughter Josephine, and her husband Rob [Murphy] , then both 26.
They nearly didn’t travel at all.
The inverted lucky escape story
** in 1989
“People were falling past us like they were falling off a cliff edge.
“It was like a big wave knocking you off your feet and the water just rushed straight in. How she did it I don’t know, but my daughter had hold of me and my wife by our jumpers, so we went as a threesome.”
In a bizarre moment, the family were refused help by two men who had pulled themselves clear of the water.
“I thought I was just about dead, then we suddenly popped up out of the water,” said Mr Gudgeon. “There were three or four heads in a window beside us, up to their necks in water. They must have been standing on the frame of the window. My daughter managed to climb up onto some seats and was trying to get my wife up with her.
“The water was brutally cold. Although it was killing us we didn’t know it at the time.
“We were trying to get my wife out of the water when we heard two men above us. They were chatting and smoking. It was as if they were waiting for a bar to open. I said, ‘can you help us out here mate?’
“He said: ‘no, sorry, there’s no room up here’. Someone called out to put his cigarette out and he chucked it down in the water beside us.
yeah, suuuuuure they were
“I don’t know how long we were there but the heads in the windows had disappeared. The last thing I remember was trying to pull Eileen up with her jumper. Suddenly she went: ‘I can’t hold on any longer’ and she started to drift away. I just grabbed her and held her, and that is the last thing I remember.”
Mr Gudgeon woke up in St Jans Hospital in Bruges. He didn’t know what had become of Irene until the Sunday, when he was led to a large gymnasium housing around 60 coffins “all laid out in rows on the floor.” ***
Mr Gudgeon and his second wife Irene met through the Herald Families Association – a support group set up for survivors – became good friends and married in August 1989.
She had lost her husband, daughter and three-week-old granddaughter in the disaster.
“As much as anything it was the companionship of being able to talk about a shared experience,” said Mr Gudgeon. “It was quite a cathartic experience. ?“Every so often on the anniversary I feel a bit blue. This year of course Irene wasn’t there which made it even more poignant.”</em
*** standard HRDPAR drill procedure
And the bandages too….
[other] Survivors included Barry Ducker, a truck driver from Narborough, near Swaffham. He had been asleep in the cab of his lorry, but managed to escape as the 38-ton vehicle was engulfed in water, using a floating car as a life raft.
source East Anglian Daily Times, 2007
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