Ballyroney woman to be remembered on Kegworth air disaster anniversary

Louise McDowell

Reporter:

Louise McDowell

A MEMORIAL service for victims of the Kegworth air disaster, which claimed the life of a Ballyroney woman, takes place today (Tuesday) — 30 years after the crash which made headlines across the globe.

Twenty nine people from Northern Ireland were among 47 passengers killed when the doomed British Midland flight from London to Belfast crashed.

Ballyroney mum of two Gwynneth McConville was one of the passengers to perish on the flight.

Today (Tuesday) marks the 30th anniversary of The Kegworth Air Disaster.

Gwynneth, who was aged 32 at the time of her death, was one of 47 people killed when a Belfast-bound Boeing 737 crashed into an embankment on the M1 at Kegworth in England on 8 January 1989.

The mother-of-two had been to London with her husband Trevor while he was on a business trip with senior executives of a Lurgan surgical equipment company, Warne’s of Portadown Road.

Trevor, a director of the company, had left his wife to the airport but he remained behind in London on further business.

The couple’s two young sons, Graham and Neil, were staying with their grandmother Mrs McConville in Rathfriland while their parents were in London.

Gwynneth (nee Ringland) had three sisters and five brothers and had strong family links in both Rathfriland and Ballyroney.

Her siblings were listed as Mrs Rita Gregson (Waringstown), Mrs Gladys Sterritt (Rathfriland), Mrs Lily Quinn (Ballyroney) and five brothers Cecil (Rathfriland), Norman, Raymond, Brian and Tom (all Ballyroney).

Speaking at the time of the tragedy back in 1989, Rev Harry Robinson, then minister of Second and Third Rathfriland Presbyterian Churches, said: “When news of the crash first broke, little did we know then that it would strike so close to home and devastate the lives of folk well-known to us.”

In total forty-seven people died, including 29 from Northern Ireland, when the British Midland flight plummeted to the ground after an engine malfunctioned.

Flight 92 crashed at an embankment beside the M1, metres from East Midlands Airport runway where it was due to make an emergency landing. As well as the 47 deaths, 74 people were seriously injured.

A memorial service will be held today (Tuesday) organised by Kegworth Parish Council who invited people from Northern Ireland to attend.

It said the crash still affects the local community who have not forgotten what happened.

Confusion over whether the left or right engine had failed led to the plane gliding with no power.

Miraculously, no one on the motorway fell victim to the disaster.

East Midlands Airport has pledged money to the memorial service.

The airport said: “East Midlands Airport has very close links with its neighbouring communities. Staff from this airport, some of whom still work here, helped with the rescue effort on that terrible night.

“For those who remember it clearly and others whose lives were touched by the events of 8 January, 1989, it is important that we support the 30th anniversary commemoration of the Kegworth air disaster.”

The service will take place in St Andrew’s Church and wreaths are to be laid at the memorial to those who died in a cemetery.

The soil on which the aircraft landed was moved to the village cemetery.

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