THIS WEEK IN 1996: Coastguard helicopter to stay put thanks to ‘people power’

Captain Peter Nicholson, centre, leads his crew in celebration. From left, back row, Ken Glover, Terry Short, Mike McCutcheon and Jaffer Dharamsi. Front row, Nick Horst, Captain Nicholosn, and senior first officer Gary Queen
Captain Peter Nicholson, centre, leads his crew in celebration. From left, back row, Ken Glover, Terry Short, Mike McCutcheon and Jaffer Dharamsi. Front row, Nick Horst, Captain Nicholosn, and senior first officer Gary Queen

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The government decided the coastguard helicopter at Lee-on-the-Solent should stay put at Daedalus.

This signalled victory for The News Keep The Solent Safe campaign and the thousands of people who fought to save the service.

Aviation and shipping minister Lord Goschen’s decision ended fears the helicopter would be moved as far east as Shoreham in West Sussex in a shake-up of the south coast’s search and rescue cover.

Portsmouth Labour leader Councillor Leo Madden said: ‘People will feel much safer at sea now because of this decision.’

The aircraft proved its worth within hours of the announcement when it helped in a successful search for a man missing near the coast at Barton-on-Sea.

Politicians, sailors, sea rescue groups and the public fought hard for the aircraft to be reprieved.

Petitions, circulated by The News and campaigning Warsash yatchsman Clive Egginton, were signed by more than 8,000 people and presented to the Department of Transport.

Mr Egginton, 50, said: ‘It has been worth all the hard work.

‘The decision shows people power can still win the day,’ he added.