Remembrance and thanks

Today, I went to a memorial service at the magnificent Lancing College chapel ( the right hand building in the photo at the top of this post). It was mostly a service to remember those who died in the Shoreham airshow crash and to recognise the efforts of the emergency services.

It was a bitterly cold day, getting to Lancing I walked over the Old Shoreham bridge. This bridge, once covered in flowers, was now covered in brightly coloured ribbons. To me it was rather chilling to see hundreds of ribbons waving in the breeze. It did remind me of loss. The personal tributes, flowers, mementos and messages had all disappeared, everything was stripped back to these plain unattributable ribbons. It reminded me of the simple grave markers and the bright poppies we use to commemorate those who’ve died in war.

The mood of the service itself was sombre interjected with brief bursts of positivity. Silence was the most powerful aspect of it. A minute silence was held at 1:22pm to mark 3 months since the accident. It was the quietest minute of silence I’ve ever experienced amongst so many people, there were no coughs, no crying children, no rustling of paper, nothing. The thick walls of the chapel and the huge space made the silence feel particularly ominous. It was like being the only person in the building.

There were many more moments of silence only filled by the deep and powerful sounds of the organ. It was clear that everyone was lost in their own thoughts and memories. There was a definite sense of sadness and loss.

For me it was a slightly surreal experience. I didn’t know anything much about the victims being remembered. The service wasn’t a personal one, there were readings by some of the families and friends but there was no indication of who they were or why they had chosen their readings. They probably had a lot of meaning for those who knew the person they were remembering but I struggled to relate.

For me the event was an opportunity to say thank you. After the service I was able to speak to members of the Red Cross who had been at the event. It was nice to see a few familiar faces, people who had helped me that day. I was able to show them that I had recovered thanks in part to their efforts. They joked that it was nice to see me wearing clothes as opposed to being wrapped in a foil blanket!

I also had a chance to speak to members of the ambulance service and police force to thank them for their efforts. For the emergency services, they were just doing their job but I think it’s very important to show gratitude and show them how much their job really means to real people.