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New lifeboat named in honour of helicopter tragedy victims

Stuart ‘Woody’ Wood was one of 16 men who lost their lives on flight 85N, which plunged into the sea off Peterhead 10 years ago.

Audrey Wood formally names the new Aberdeen inshore lifeboat Buoy Woody (Newsline Media/RNLI/PA)
Audrey Wood formally names the new Aberdeen inshore lifeboat Buoy Woody (Newsline Media/RNLI/PA)

A new lifeboat has been named in memory of 16 men who lost their lives in a helicopter tragedy a decade ago.

Aberdeen’s new RNLI inshore vessel has been named “Bouy Woody – 85N”, in honour of Stuart “Woody” Wood and the others on flight 85N which plunged into the sea off the coast of Peterhead on April 1, 2009.

More than 200 guests attended a naming ceremony at the city’s Blaikie’s Quay on Saturday, with Mr Wood’s mother Audrey Wood splashing whisky on the lifeboat to mark the occasion

A fundraising campaign for the rescue craft hit £235,000, which accounted for around two-thirds of its cost.

Speaking on behalf of everyone who donated to the appeal, Ms Wood described the day her son failed to return home.

We pledged to raise money for local RNLI stations... this helped both us and the RNLI as, apart from raising funds, it was also a distraction therapy for us in this lifelong grieving journey. Audrey Wood

She said: “The 1st of April 2009 was a beautiful spring day offshore on the Miller Platform – clear blue skies, sea like a mill pond. Our son Stuart, better known as Woody, was flying home – he was meant to be home the week prior but had stayed on to complete a job.

“The helicopter, Flight 85N, boarded and took off as normal for its one-hour flight to Aberdeen.

“But on that beautiful day, tragedy struck. The helicopter, with 16 men on board, plunged into the sea some 12 miles from Peterhead.

“A full air and sea search was launched, and the team worked day and night until all of our boys were found and brought back to waiting loved ones. But there were no survivors.”

Ms Wood said the family only realised the RNLI’s work was voluntary after the incident.

She added: “We pledged to raise money for local RNLI stations. In truth, this helped both us and the RNLI as, apart from raising funds, it was also a distraction therapy for us in this lifelong grieving journey of losing our only son.

“Over the past 10 years, we have managed to raise £235,000 – more than we ever dreamed possible. The money has been distributed to local RNLI stations along the north-east coastline from Buckie to Aberdeen.

“Our hope is that this money will help save lives at sea around our coast, so that other families might be spared the pain that we have had to endure.”

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Guests at today’s naming ceremony saw a capability demonstration by Aberdeen inshore lifeboat ‘Buoy Woody-85N’ with senior helm Stuart Gibb at the controls (Newsline Media/RNLI/PA)

Davie Orr, coxswain of Aberdeen Lifeboat, accepted the vessel into the station’s care on behalf of the crew, who then carried out a capability demonstration.

He said: “The RNLI’s lifeboats are a part of the community. They are crewed by volunteers from the community and funded by charitable donations from the community.

“Like all lifeboat stations, here at Aberdeen we take immense pride in what we do, how we do it, and in our boats.

“This new inshore lifeboat will be lovingly cared for at our station.”

PA

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