Tragic rescue’s 20th anniversary to be marked

The emergency services during a demonstration at the Aith Gala. Photo: Bristow Helicopters

THE 20th anniversary of the Green Lily rescue off the east coast of Bressay which claimed the life of a helicopter winchman will be commemorated later this month.

Billy Deacon was swept overboard in appalling weather after Lerwick lifeboat and the coastguard helicopter saved the 15 crew members from the grounded freight vessel.

A still from video footage of the Green Lily grounding.

Deacon, who had helped the last two crew members to safety before he died, was given the George medal posthumously, while other lifeboat and coastguard men were also honoured.

The incident took place on 19 November 1997 and its 20th anniversary will be marked by the crews from the Lerwick lifeboat and coastguard helicopter laying wreaths at the site of the grounding at midday on 19 November, with a service scheduled to follow in Lerwick.

An exhibition commemorating the rescue will also be held at the Shetland Museum in Lerwick between 14 and 25 November.

Bristow’s chief pilot at Sumburgh Stuart Cunliffe said: “The tragic events of the Green Lilly rescue highlight the dangers that rescue crews are constantly exposed to in the conduct of their duties.

“This accident is a continued reminder of the dedication, professionalism and the heroism required of individuals that practice search and rescue on a daily basis, whether by air, land or sea.”

Operations manager of the Lerwick lifeboat Malcolm Craigie added: “It’s important that we commemorate the tragic loss of Billy Deacon that day, and the skill and bravery of both crews in saving the lives of 15 seamen”.