Thirty years after the Zeebrugge ferry disaster, Aled Jones is in Dover to hear from survivors and from people who lost loved ones.
Browse content similar to Zeebrugge Anniversary. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
Dover. Starting off point for millions of holiday trips.
But 30 years ago,
what began as a routine ferry crossing ended in tragedy.
On the evening of the 6th of March 1987,
the Herald of Free Enterprise had just left
the port of Zeebrugge in Belgium.
She was returning here to Dover, but within minutes of setting sail,
the ship capsized, leading to a terrible loss of life.
193 people died as a result of the disaster and on Songs Of Praise,
I'll be meeting those whose lives were changed forever that day.
My immediate feeling for me was, "Oh, God. This is the end.
"I hope it's going to be quick."
And I accompany one survivor to see the memorial to the victims here
in Dover for the very first time.
I'm glad I've done this and I'm sure my family are as well.
I'm sure they're looking down on me right now.
And to mark the beginning of Lent, Kate Bottley sees how one artist
is helping a village to take a fresh look at the stations of the cross.
So we're a few days into the season of Lent
and if you've given something up or you're taking something on,
our opening hymn should give you strength and encouragement.
And it's led by Keith and Kristyn Getty.
Considering the Channel is one of the busiest shipping lanes
in the world, it remains incredibly safe to cross it by ferry.
But, 30 years ago, it was a typically cold March night,
around 7 o'clock, when the Herald of Free Enterprise set sail for Dover.
She was packed with crew, lorry drivers and families,
many of whom were returning after a day trip in Belgium.
Within minutes of leaving the port, water rushed onto the car deck -
the bow doors had been left open.
It took just 90 seconds for the ship to capsize.
In the darkness and confusion of last night, many of the survivors
found themselves separated from their loved ones.
The windows were underwater,
the water burst in and the ship was in darkness.
The sea was already inside down below.
Clive Bush was one of the 80 crew members aboard that day.
It was about half an hour out,
I was in the mess, having a meal, and she started to list.
And within seconds, she'd completely gone over.
Within a minute, all the lights went out, it was total darkness,
and the water just gushed in at a horrendous rate of knots.
My immediate feeling for me was, "Oh, God, you know, this is the end.
"I hope it's going to be quick."
The mess was just a nightmare floating chairs and debris,
all sorts of things, and a rope was thrown across
and then, obviously, passengers were pulled out.
It was a horrendous experience and, immediately after,
I had a lot of problems. I became very angry and very guilty.
-Why do you say guilty?
-I don't know if that's strange or not.
But the crew members who had died so young, they should have been OK
and it should have been me. I felt guilty for quite some time.
-To a degree, it hasn't left me totally...
When Margaret de Rohan and her husband realised that their daughter
and son-in-law were on board the ship,
they knew they had to travel to Belgium.
All the police advice was not to go.
But I had this feeling in my heart
that she was injured in some way,
so she couldn't say who she was.
My husband said, "We've come a long way
"and I know you have 16 unidentified bodies in the morgue
"so I'd like to see them now, please."
So he went and he was gone a long time.
And then he came back, he bent over and kissed me on the cheek
"Ali's there but Francis isn't."
So then I said I wanted to go and see her,
and I didn't really recognise her
because it was like all her vivaciousness,
all her light, everything that made her who she was, was gone.
Francis' body was found later. They'd been married just 18 months.
How difficult was it for you to cope with what had happened?
Oh, it was... There's no words to describe how difficult it was.
And all the other bereaved will feel the same way.
But a lot of people would ask, you know,
"Where was God at 7 o'clock in Zeebrugge that night?"
Well, God was in those 400 or so who were saved.
Because, when the Herald of Free Enterprise began to capsize,
it landed on a man-made sandbank,
and that's why it didn't completely go under.
That was by the grace of God.
A hymn that does help was one we had at Alison's funeral,
which is Dear Lord And Father Of Mankind, Forgive Our Foolish Ways.
I thought of the young man who didn't close the bow doors,
who was getting all the blame,
all the finger-pointing was going towards him.
I wasn't letting him off the hook in any way but I did feel his pain.
"And reclothe us in our rightful mind,"
and I think that helped me a great deal too.
Lent is a time when Christians prepare for Easter
and Jesus' death and resurrection.
And one of the ways it's marked is through the stations of the cross
which commemorate key events on the day of Christ's crucifixion.
A village in Derbyshire has come up with
a different way of using those images, as Kate Bottley found out.
The residents in Eyam are taking part
in a nationwide initiative called the One Friday Challenge,
where imaginative projects find new ways of retelling
the story of Christ's passion in public places.
Even the local schoolchildren are getting involved,
as I'll be finding out later.
But, first, I'm taking a tour of the village with Jenny Hawk,
who's the water-colourist responsible
for these stunning pieces of art.
So, Jenny, tell me about this one.
Well, the theme was betrayal
and the obvious time for betrayal is when Judas
greets Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, but to me,
when Jesus handed the piece of bread and Judas took it,
that was the sign of betrayal.
It's such an intimate gesture, isn't it?
Reaching out a hand towards someone else and giving someone
something but actually we know the pain that's in that picture,
both for Jesus and Judas.
Yes, because Jesus knew what was coming.
Jenny's works of art hang at different points of interest
all around the village, even at the bus stop.
Jenny, this one's really striking, isn't it?
It's called Death, tell me about it.
To me, Death is just about something brewing and it's the resurrection,
so, when you think all hope is lost, it's not
and that's what faith's all about.
-So what's this one?
-This one's Powerless.
So the point at which Jesus got handcuffs on, and I wanted his hands
to be coming out at the viewer to show that he was willing.
He was the one with the power and yet he was giving it up completely.
Before I started this, I was in a dry place.
I felt I was in the desert where I was disconnected,
I wasn't feeling anything. And having been in the church,
brought up in the church since the age of seven,
you go through those periods and sometimes you wonder whether
you're going to get out of them but this made me reconnect
cos I had to do it. So, for me, it changed everything.
-A sort of resurrection, really.
A slow one, but definitely a resurrection.
The image for Hope hangs on the gates of the local primary school,
where Jenny is holding a workshop for these budding artists.
You're going to hold it level, OK? And then you're going to hit it.
-Isn't that cool?
So you hold it there, that's it. There you go.
I think you've got more on your face than you have on the paper.
-Look, look, that way! Show them!
The moving story behind the stations of the cross
still resonates strongly and these youngsters are finding
a way to retell that story in their own unique style.
-Are you sure that's the right purple?
It is the right purple!
Cos that's like the purple cloak that Jesus wore,
and that looks a bit like the crown of thorns, doesn't it?
It's a happy painting. Why is Easter day a happy day?
-Because he comes back to life.
-That's right. Who? Who's "he"?
I've even had a go myself, but...will the children approve?
-What do you think? Do you like them?
Aw! You're so kind. Who knows?
Maybe next year I'll have one of my paintings up in the village. Yeah?
# When I survey the wondrous cross
# On which the prince of glory died
# My richest gain I count but loss
# And pour contempt on all my pride
# Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
# Save in the death of Christ my God
# All the vain things that charm me most
# I sacrifice them to his blood
# Were the whole realm of nature mine
# That were a present far too small
# Love so amazing, so divine
# Demands my soul, my life, my all. #
Great to see so many young people playing the harp there,
I hope they keep it up.
Now, if you're a member of a small church, you'll know just how
difficult it is to find good musicians, especially women.
Well, Josie d'Arby has been up in the Midlands to meet
a group who are doing something about that.
It can be a common sight.
Orchestras and other professional groups dominated by men.
Well, the group I've come to see today
have at least three things in common.
They're all Christian, they're all musicians and they're all female.
This is a jam session for amateur female musicians
run by professional saxophonist Millicent Stephenson.
The jam session is a time for us a to work together.
That's it, yeah. And then it... You like that one, don't you?
Hey, now we're going to rock that sax.
I really encourage the women, try something out,
try doing it this way, try doing it that way.
The idea for the sessions came about two years ago.
While Millicent had found personal success as a solo performer,
she couldn't ignore the absence of other female musicians.
It really arrested me.
I spoke to male musicians as well
and I thought maybe God was telling me to do something about it.
What was the reason that there's a shortage of females,
-what's the reason for that?
-I think there's a variety of reasons.
Sometimes women are less confident.
Some of them started in music when they were younger
and maybe they dropped off music.
That struck a chord with keyboard player Marjorie who had
struggled with having the confidence to play in her church band.
Over time, I think my confidence
really had dipped quite a bit
with, as it were, the trappings of life.
You get caught up with other things.
And meeting other women, musicians,
wasn't competitive to say, "You're better than me,"
or, "I'm better than you," and it really did actually help me.
The jam sessions aren't about musical excellence but fellowship
with like-minded people and finding your own unique voice.
In the past, I did a session on, "Should We Play It Like A Man?"
Because this idea is, you know,
do we hit those drums like a man or do we put a female touch on it?
How to do your practice better and more efficiently,
cos some of them are mums so you've got
a million and one things to do but you've got to find time to practise.
-We're great at multi-tasking.
-Yeah! We are, we are.
We've all got individual commitments, family and so on,
so sometimes it's nice just to come out of that zone
with people who understand where we're coming from.
Building your confidence and your experience as a musician.
And a safe environment to play in.
It's quite a male-dominated industry.
It was just nice to sort of bring our women together,
just to empower each other.
When I play now, I feel stronger,
I feel that I can bless others through my skill,
that I'm still developing and that's a wonderful place to be.
You know, sometimes God works in a small way.
You know, I think we've got the gift of music and if we've got
that talent, got that ability, you may not be on a large stage,
you might just be in your own church,
but wherever you are, use it.
This is St Mary's in Dover, a very important church for the friends
and family of those who passed away in the Zeebrugge ferry disaster.
Inside, there's an area dedicated to the memory of those who died.
In a moment, I'm going to be meeting Gillian Lashbrooke, who survived
the disaster but lost both of her parents in the tragedy.
Gillian Lashbrooke was just 16 years old
when she went on a day trip from Dover to Zeebrugge
with her mother, stepfather, uncle and two stepbrothers.
-This is the first time for you...
-..back here in Dover.
How do you feel, looking out there?
It's quite eerie, to be fair.
And brings back a lot of memories. Not very pleasant ones.
Tell us a little bit about the events of that day.
I was going with my family.
We were all looking forward to our day to Belgium.
It cost a pound to get there,
and it was one of those little cheap days out.
I passed my mother and she said, "I'll see you in a minute."
And, unfortunately, I never saw her again after that.
Take me through what happened, then.
I went outside onto the front of the ship and I could see the boat
was going down into the water, but I couldn't quite believe it.
It was just very surreal.
Unfortunately, I got thrown and I was knocked unconscious,
and that happened two times.
So I came back round...
And at that point, I decided to jump into the sea,
otherwise I might have drowned, actually, on the ship.
I said a prayer, I spoke to my mother,
hoping I wasn't speaking to her.
That's when I saw a fisher boat,
and that's when they came over and pulled me up onto the boat.
Gillian spent the night alone in hospital,
but the next day was reunited with her two brothers,
who had also survived.
And a lady from the Red Cross came over with a clipboard in her hand,
and she just read down the list and she pointed to our names,
and she looked up at us and said,
"Oh, you do know your parents are dead, don't you?"
God, you must have been so heartbroken to be told that way.
Oh, it was. That was the life-changing moment.
I kind of lost my faith for a couple of years. I couldn't forgive.
I couldn't understand why God hadn't intervened.
I was so close to my mum. It just tore my life apart afterwards.
So what's brought you back to faith?
Well, the wound's healed, the scars remain,
but I needed faith to bandage all the grief I was suffering.
Do you find yourself asking, you know,
"Why did I survive and my mum didn't?"
I thought maybe other things were meant for me.
To have a nice family.
I was meant to have the children that I have now.
You know there's a memorial here for those who lost their life...
-..in the Zeebrugge disaster. It's just round the corner.
-I know you've never seen it.
Would you like to go and have a look?
-Definitely would, I'd love to.
-Come on, let's go now.
SLOW PIANO MUSIC
So this is the... This is the memorial itself.
And your mum's name is going to be there, isn't it?
There it is, there.
It's nice to see that she's been remembered.
-Brings it to life again, doesn't it?
-It does, doesn't it?
It must do for you.
It's good to remember so you never forget.
-And the window behind.
-It's not nice to see that picture of the ferry.
It certainly isn't. But it's really nice of them to do this.
Yeah, very taken with that. It's lovely.
-How will you remember your mum?
-As being a very happy, jolly person.
Everybody loved her. She was very popular.
She was nice. She was a good mum.
She was a lovely lady.
-I'm glad you've come.
-So am I.
I'm glad I did this.
It takes some courage as well, I think, doesn't it?
It certainly does, yeah.
Sometimes you just want to forget and move on,
but I'm glad I've done this. And I'm sure my family are, as well.
I'm sure they're looking down on me right now.
I'm glad that I've done this.
# Now may the peace of the Lord
# Be with you
# Be with you
# Now may the peace of the Lord
# Be with you
# Be with you
# Now and always... #
The 30th anniversary memorial service for those who died
in the Zeebrugge disaster will be held here tomorrow,
and we hope it offers comfort to those involved.
We're going to end with a hymn of hope and reassurance.
Until next time, bye-bye.
Thirty years after the Zeebrugge ferry disaster, which resulted in the loss of 193 passengers and crew, Aled Jones is in Dover to hear first-hand accounts from survivors and precious memories from people who lost loved ones.
I Will Sing the Wondrous Story by Keith and Kristyn Getty and the congregation of Orangefield Presbyterian Church, Belfast Dear Lord and Father of Mankind from St Andrew's Cathedral, Glasgow When I Survey the Wondrous Cross by Faryl and the International Harp Ensemble Sing of the Lord's Goodness from Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Sutton Coldfield Eternal Father, Strong to Save from Llandaff Cathedral, Cardiff The Peace by Graham Kendrick and the congregation of All Saints Church, Sheffield All My Hope on God Is Founded from St James the Greater, Leicester.