People’s generosity in wake of air show tragedy ‘absolutely wonderful’

More than �10,000 was presented to the Sussex Community Foundation's Shoreham Air Disaster Fund     Picture: Andrew Mardell
More than �10,000 was presented to the Sussex Community Foundation's Shoreham Air Disaster Fund Picture: Andrew Mardell

MORE than £10,000 donated in memory of the Shoreham Air Show crash victims has been presented to the Sussex Community Foundation.

Eleven men lost their lives when a Hawker Hunter jet crashed onto the A27 at Lancing during the air show, on the afternoon of Saturday, August 22.

Following the incident, select Co-op stores across the area put collection tins by the tills and held book sales, cake sales, raffles and dress-up days to raise money for the fund, with customers donating in their droves.

After presenting a cheque for £10,000 at Shoreham’s Old Toll Bridge, Keith Macfarlane, Co-op area manager, said: “Straight after the disaster, everyone was keen to get involved. Being part of the community is what we stand for. I think it’s incredible. They have done amazingly to raise the money they have.”

He added that it showed community spirit was alive and well, and that it was great to give something back.

The eleven men who died in the disaster were Maurice Abrahams, 76, from Brighton; Graham Mallinson, 72, from Newick; Mark Trussler, 54, from Worthing; Dylan Archer, 42, from Brighton; Richard Smith, 26, from Hove; Tony Brightwell, 53, from Hove; Mark Reeves, 53, from Seaford; Worthing United footballers Matthew Grimstone and Jacob Schilt, both 23; personal trainer Matt Jones, 24, and Daniele Polito, 23, from Worthing.

Shoreham’s Old Toll Bridge quickly became a focal point for people from across the area and further afield wanting to pay tribute to the victims, with hundreds of floral tributes being left.

More recently, family and friends of Littlehampton victim Matt Jones decorated the bridge with thousands of brightly coloured ribbons.

Karl Dimmock, managing director for Johnston Press South, presented Keith Hollis, a trustee of the Sussex Community Foundation, with a cheque for £1,600, donated by the newspapers.

He said: “The Herald & Gazette series is firmly part of a community that was deeply affected by the tragedy, a community that continues to feel the effects to this day, as the incredible tributes on the toll bridge illustrate.

“In the days following the disaster, guided by a response to this groundswell of sentiment of the community, we made the decision that for every copy sold that week, we would make a donation in memory of the victims.”

“We knew that because of local interest in the tragedy we would see an increase in newspaper sales.

“But in the same way that it would have been wrong for us to sensationalise our coverage, we also felt it just would not have been right to have profited from one of the worst disasters in the area’s history. That’s not what we stand for.

“Therefore, we make this gesture – a small one in the grand scheme of things – on behalf of everyone who bought one of our papers that week, because standing together as a community makes us all stronger.

“We now hope that it will be used to support the families and friends of those who lost their lives, who remain in our thoughts today.”

The Sussex Community Foundation is managing the official fund, which was set up in the days after the disaster, on behalf of Adur District Council, Worthing Borough Council and West Sussex County Council.

Mr Hollis is also chairman of the grants panel for the Shoreham air disaster fund.

He said: “It is absolutely wonderful how generous so many people have been. The first day the fund was set up, I was helping on the telephones. People were calling in with large and small amounts and it makes you think how decent the people of Sussex are.”

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