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Letters / Lost lives at work matter

Saturday was a day folk throughout our islands, our country and across our world remember. Days come and go but some days make us stop. Make us think. Make us remember.

This day in 1988 I had finished my master’s degree in psychology, had enjoyed my celebrations. On this day I vividly remember the sense of absolute shock and total helplessness as we saw on our television screens the horror of the images of the Piper Alpha platform 50 miles northeast of Aberdeen.

I went from joy to horror.

Watching Piper Alpha in an instance took me back to the horror of the fire at James Watt Street in Glasgow in 1968 where my father was one of the men, woman and children who died in the most horrific fire in Scotland since the war.

I had a powerful drive to understand trauma and to heal my own. When we face trauma we are left with a life of loss and pain. I have been driven throughout my life to help others and to help me.

I work as a volunteer for the Charity Scottish Hazards. We support families and friends of people who die at work. We remember the dead and we fight for the living.

On Saturday I spent time on the shoreline of Shetland and I looked out to sea and remembered. 167 people died on Piper Alpha; 61 people live as survivors and 30 people were never found. Such heartache for so many.

I have friends who are weeping. Friends involved in Scottish Hazards. Friends who like me are active in a group called Families Against Corporate Killing (FACK). You can find both groups on social media, Scottish Hazards has a website.

In Aberdeen’s Hazelhead Park, the beautiful memorial sculpture sits in a rose garden. Folk will go there to remember and honour loved ones. Having a gathering place is important. Somewhere to go to just be.

I am working with colleagues at Scottish Hazards, with Emma Roddick MSP, with Shetland Arts and Shetland Islands Council to remember lives lost at work.

For the last two years Mareel has been lit up on International Workers Memorial Day (IWMD). A day important in the calendar for families like mine.

I have hopes that here we can get a memorial stone. I worked with Glasgow City Council, and we made it happen there specifically for the James Watt Street disaster.

In Shetland we want one for all of us who have lost loved ones at work. We want a place to go and remember on days like this, on IWMD, on anniversaries and birthdays. On days we just need too. To have no grave, nobody found is a pain I know, like other Shetlanders, it hurts deeply and is lifelong.

Saturday for someone with complex PTSD was a hard day. I stood on the beach, looked out and remembered the images that have been stuck in my memory, I remembered the dead and I quietly promised and committed myself to continue to remember and to fight for the living.

I hope all of you affected by Piper Alpha found time to remember, to weep, to grieve, to remember to the joy and the life you had with your loved ones. I want you to know Scottish Hazards can be contacted. Contact me via them. Join us on FACK on social media.

Lost lives at work matter.
Our memories matter.
Take gentle care of you on this day and always.

Joyce Davies


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