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Kegworth disaster heroine in tribute on 25th anniversary

By Peter Woodman

Flowers will be laid on a memorial site and prayers said in church this week to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Kegworth air disaster in Leicestershire which claimed 47 lives.

Fittingly, the flowers will be placed by Lesley Pendleton, who was clerk to Kegworth Parish Council at the time of the crash and remains in her post 25 years on. The flower laying is a task that has befallen Mrs Pendleton and others each year since the fateful night of January 8, 1989 when a Belfast-bound British Midland Boeing 737 crashed on an embankment of the M1 at Kegworth after engine trouble.

As well as the 47 deaths, the crash resulted in 74 serious injuries, with Kegworth villagers joining emergency services to help tend the wounded.

En route from Heathrow with 126 people on board, the plane developed a problem with an engine. It later transpired that when the trouble occurred the pilots had shut down the wrong engine before attempting to land at nearby East Midlands airport.

Crashing on to the M1, the plane somehow managed to avoid hitting any vehicles and no-one on the motorway was hurt.

On the night of the crash, Mrs Pendleton, now 67, was driving her daughter Susan, then 12, home to Kegworth when she saw a plume of smoke.

She said yesterday: "My first thought was that there would be no survivors.

"The crash site was just 100 yards from our home. The village rallied round. People rushed up with blankets for the injured and others cut steps in the embankment to help emergency teams."

The memorial in Kegworth Cemetery was erected by the parish council. As well as the flower laying next Wednesday, the day of the anniversary, prayers will be said at a regular service at Kegworth's St Andrews Church.

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