Belfast Telegraph

Calls grow for Princess Victoria memorial service

By Victoria O'Hara

The daughter of a survivor of the sinking of the Princess Victoria has supported calls for a service to be held at St Anne’s Cathedral to mark the 60th anniversary of the disaster.

Ann Moore’s father Jim Blair was a steward on the ill-fated ferry that sank with the loss of 133 souls in January 1953 — one of the UK’s worst peacetime maritime tragedies.

The father-of-three, who lived until he was 83, was among just 44 survivors — all men — who had tried in vain to save others, including women and children, when the ship sank on its way from Stranraer to Larne.

Annual commemorations are held in Donaghadee and Larne and memorials also stand in both towns, and in Stranraer.

But it has been suggested a service held at St Anne’s Cathedral would be a fitting way to mark the 60th anniversary and heighten awareness of the sinking, off the coast of Co Down.

Mrs Moore, from Larne, said she welcomed the suggestion saying she believed it would give “added respect” to the victims six decades on.

“I think it would be a good idea,” she said. “I think it is important because there are still a lot of relatives left and from that point of view I think it is nice that they are remembered.

“What they did on the 50th anniversary, where we went out on a boat and laid wreaths on the site where the ferry sank, was very fitting. And I think the service would show that kind of respect, too.”

Mrs Moore said her father, although he survived, “never really got over” the night 133 people perished.

“He lost most of his good friends,” she said. “He didn’t really talk about it much. There were children on board and had tried to save them, got them into the lifeboat, but it overturned.

“A policeman came to the door to say my father was safe, but we didn’t believe it until we actually saw him.

“There were so many people in the town who lost loved ones, it affected so many people, so I think that service would be a lovely thing to do in all of their memories.”

Background

The Princess Victoria sank in the North Channel on January 31, 1953. Deputy Prime Minister of Northern Ireland Major JM Sinclair was among the 133 victims.

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