Memorial is unveiled to Shoreham air crash victims

A memorial honouring the lives of the 11 men who died in the Shoreham Airshow crash has been unveiled.

Saturday, 18th May 2019, 12:22 pm
Updated Monday, 20th May 2019, 6:09 pm
Edwina Abrahams, wife of Maurice Abrahams who died in the Shoreham Airshow crash, views a memorial created by artists Jane Fordham and David Parfitt, to the Shoreham Airshow victims after it was unveiled on the banks of the Adur in Shoreham Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

A series of arches - each individually designed in tribute to the victims - opened to the public for the first time today.

The 11 men died when a vintage Hawker Hunter jet crashed mid-display and exploded into a fireball on the A27 in West Sussex on August 22 2015.

They included Richard Smith, 26, a former Cosham bike shop worker and Jacob Shult, 23, who had attended the University of Portsmouth.

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The memorial sits on the banks of the River Adur by the Shoreham Toll Bridge, which is near the crash site and became a focal point for mourners in the aftermath of the disaster.

Edwina Abrahams, the widow of 76-year-old wedding chauffeur Maurice Abrahams, who died in the crash, became tearful as she viewed the memorial on Monday afternoon.

An arch in his memory is decorated with foliage and music notes - in a nod to his love of jazz and gardening.

Mrs Abrahams told Press Association: ‘It's lovely, they have done a good job.

‘We picked a design which reflects his interests. It's just all so sad.’

The tribute was funded by donations and relatives were invited to pick the final design.

Artists David Parfitt and Jane Fordham hope it will be somewhere people can reflect on the tragedy.

The four-metre high stainless steel arches stand on a circular marble mosaic consisting of thousands of pieces next to a bench.

Reminiscent of the outline of the hull of a boat, the arches appear to change colour as they reflect the water, the artists said.

Lights suspended on reeds are also due to be installed on the opposite side of the river bank to be seen through the arches to complete the design.

Neil Parkin, leader of Adur District Council, which organised the project, said: ‘This tragedy affected the whole community. It is still very raw.

‘The memorial is totally individual - just like each of the people it represents.

‘I hope the families get some sort of peace from this."

The other victims were: Tony Brightwell, 53; Matthew Grimstone and Daniele Polito, both 23; Matt Jones, 24; Graham Mallinson, 72; Mark Reeves, 53; Dylan Archer, 42; and Mark Trussler, 54, who all lived in Sussex.

The arch in memory of steam train enthusiast Mr Mallinson includes traditional railway signs, while the tribute to Mr Schilt is adorned with the outlines of cats.

Football fan Mr Grimstone has an arch featuring a seagull, the symbol of Brighton and Hove Albion where he worked.

Inscribed on the arch for Mr Brightwell are the words: ‘Forever loved, fly high, shine bright.’

A design resembling a bicycle wheel honours avid cyclist Mr Smith.

Ms Fordham and Mr Parfitt said the project had ‘totally consumed’ them over the last two years and was close to their hearts as they were visiting the town at the time of the crash.

Ms Fordham said: ‘I hope we have created a space for people to grieve in their own way.

‘No two arches are the same, each have different details inscribed on to them.

‘It has been an enormous privilege to work on this and it still feels very much a part of us.’

Sculptor Mr Parfitt said: ‘It's been a very moving project. It has absorbed both Jane and I for the last two years.’

Pilot Andrew Hill was cleared of 11 charges of manslaughter by gross negligence after a trial at the Old Bailey earlier this year.

At the time relatives of the victims said they were devastated by the verdict.

An inquest into the deaths is anticipated to take place next year.