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Air stewardess in tribute to Manchester United hero Harry Gregg

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Crash hero: the late NI goalkeeper Harry Gregg

Crash hero: the late NI goalkeeper Harry Gregg

Crash hero: the late NI goalkeeper Harry Gregg

A former air stewardess who helped Harry Gregg rescue a baby after the Munich air disaster has paid tribute to her "hero" following his death last month.

Mr Gregg handed the child to Rosemary Blakeley after returning to the twisted wreckage of the plane in the aftermath of the shocking crash in 1958.

Mrs Blakeley (87), who emigrated to America 18 months after the tragedy, contacted the Daily Mail this week after hearing about his death.

She said the former Manchester United and Northern Ireland goalkeeper had been "a very special person".

Mrs Blakeley, who was a 25-year-old BEA stewardess at the time of the incident, gave one of her first interviews about the tragedy in 2018.

She said her memory of seeing bodies scattered on the snow at the airport in Munich was as vivid as when it happened.

Mrs Blakeley recalled at the time how she escaped unscathed after the plane skidded and smashed into a fence and a house at the end of the runway.

In her bare feet she and a colleague helped the survivors before Gregg emerged from the wreckage of the plane with a baby in his arms.

She said: "I was standing close to the aircraft and out came Harry Gregg, holding a little baby, which he gave to me.

"I cuddled her until a vehicle came with some personnel from the airport building and they took the child from me."

The baby was Vesna Lukic, who was just 22 months old at the time of the crash.

Gregg also pulled the child's pregnant mother and several team-mates, including Sir Bobby Charlton, from the wreckage even though he had been warned the plane could blow at any time.

In 2008 Manchester United invited Mrs Blakeley to a service marking 50 years since the shocking disaster. It was the first time she had met Gregg since the crash.

She said: "I will never forget Harry. He was such a brave young hero. He was incredible."

A total of 23 people, including eight of the famous Busby Babes, died as a result of the crash, which happened after Manchester United's aircraft stopped at Munich to re-fuel.

Sir Bobby was among the mourners at Gregg's funeral.

Belfast Telegraph