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Memorial for Kegworth air disaster

Flowers will be laid on a memorial site and prayers will be 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 Sunday January 8 1989 when a Belfast-bound British Midland Boeing 737 crashed on an embankment of the M1 at Kegworth after suffering 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 one of the engines. 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 today: "My first thought was that there would be no survivors. There are not many plane crashes when some of the passengers are able to walk away.

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

Mother-of-three Mrs Pendleton added: "I was involved in setting up a disaster appeal and many hundreds of thousands of pounds was raised. Some of it went on helping those who stayed in the area to be near their injured relatives.

"Some people were in hospital for many, many months. The locals were just wonderful. There were many unsung heroes."

The memorial in Kegworth Cemetery was erected by the parish council "to those who died, those who were injured and those who took part in the rescue operation".

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, conducted by the rector, the Rev Gill Turner-Callis.

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