Green Lily tragedy – 20th anniversary commemoration planned

A helicopter winchman who lost his life during a rescue operation will be remembered in a wreath-laying ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of his death.

Billy Deacon was lost on 19th November 1997 when the freighter Green Lily ran aground at Grutwick, Bressay.

Although her 15 strong crew were rescued by the Lerwick Lifeboat and the Coastguard helicopter, Mr Deacon died when he was swept overboard from the ship.

Mr Deacon was posthumously awarded the George Medal, and crews from both the lifeboat and helicopter were honoured by the RNLI and Bristow’s Search and Rescue, with lifeboat coxswain Hewitt Clark being awarded the RNLI’s Gold Medal.

Both Bristow and the Lerwick lifeboat crew plan to mark the anniversary. They are due to simultaneously lay wreaths at the site of the grounding at midday on 19th November. This will be followed by a service in Lerwick.

A commemorative exhibition will also be held in the Shetland Museum from 14th–25th November.

Bristow’s chief pilot at Sumburgh Search and Rescue, Stuart Cunliffe, said: “The tragic events of the Green Lily 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.”

Lifeboat Operations Manager, 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.”


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