Belfast Telegraph

Donaghadee to remember Princess Victoria tragedy with special service

By Adrian Rutherford

A special service to mark the 65th anniversary of the Princess Victoria disaster will be held this weekend.

The vessel sank off the Co Down coast in treacherous weather on January 31, 1953, with the loss of 133 lives.

It was the greatest peacetime loss of life in British or Irish waters.

A service will be held in Donaghadee Parish Church this Sunday, January 28, at 3.30pm.

Donaghadee, Larne and Portpatrick lifeboats were involved in rescue attempts and, subject to operational commitments, will be represented at the service, along with representatives from neighbouring lifeboat stations.

They plan to lay a wreath over the site of the wreck that morning.

Rev Ian Gamble, the rector of Donaghadee, said: "This is an opportunity to commemorate a disaster that made a lasting impression on Donaghadee.

"Many people still alive have painful memories of the awful news and the bodies being brought ashore following that dreadful storm.

"This service will be a time to remember those who died in the tragedy and the grief of their families, but also to celebrate the astonishing bravery of the lifeboat crews, and the crews of other ships that came to the rescue in the most extreme conditions."

He added: "The importance the community attaches to this commemoration will be reflected in the number of elected representatives and other distinguished visitors who are expected to attend."

The service will be accompanied by an exhibition in the parish church hall, organised by Donaghadee Heritage Preservation Company, from 11am to 4pm on January 25, 26 and 27.

Stephen Cameron, who wrote a book on the Princess Victoria tragedy, will give a talk in the Parish Church Hall on Friday.

Donaghadee Heritage Preservation Company aims to preserve and restore the historic lifeboat Sir Samuel Kelly, which rescued 33 of the 44 survivors from the wreck.

Donaghadee Heritage's chair Kenneth Walsh said: "Taken together, the service and the exhibition will represent an important step forward for the town in obtaining recognition for the significance of the Princess Victoria disaster."

Belfast Telegraph

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