Courage of families praised at Great Heck memorial service

York Press: The Right Reverend Cyril Ashton, Bishop of Doncaster speaks at the memorial service The Right Reverend Cyril Ashton, Bishop of Doncaster speaks at the memorial service

Updated: A BISHOP has praised the courage of families in coming to terms with the loss of their loved ones in the Selby train crash ten years ago today.

The Right Reverend Cyril Ashton, Bishop of Doncaster, was giving an address this afternoon at a memorial service held at Hensall Church, near Great Heck, where ten people were killed and scores injured on February 28, 2001.

The tragedy happened when a GNER train struck a Land Rover which had crashed down an embankment on to the tracks and was derailed, colliding head-on with a goods train.

The Bishop told the congregation that the service was an opportunity to ‘commemorate with appropriate dignity’ those who lost their lives and were injured, bereaved and broken by the tragic event.

He said the seeds of hope beyond tragedy were sown in the crash, with the ‘courage of the families, the generosity of this community, the exemplary conduct of the railway chaplains, media, police and emergency services, the tireless efforts of medical, ambulance and fire brigade services to preserve and protect life and the clergy, volunteers and friends who through their presence brought comfort and strength.’

The Bishop, who took an evening service in Snaith Priory on the evening after the crash, said: “Today is a time to bring healing to the past. The psalm we used reminds us that God is a very present help in trouble so we can be still and know that he is God. We can come to a place of peace.

“We applaud the courage of the families in seeking to come to terms with this particular tragedy and moving on. I pray that your lives will be characterised by gratitude and hope as you seek to live life in the fullest possible way.”

He said a particularly poignant example of this was the experience of James Dunn, whose father Steve, the freight train driver, was one of the ten people who died.

“James is now a train driver and very well respected, as was his father,” he said.

“This example of how it is possible to move on is a source of real hope and gratitude for all of us.”

Tributes were given by Ann Edgar, former customer service director of GNER, and Jonathan Metcalfe, former GNER chief operating officer, now working in Australia, whose message was read out on his behalf. They praised the ‘exemplary’ way the York-based train company, which no longer exists, had handled the tragedy.

Judith Cairncross, the sister of the GNER train’s guard Raymond Robson, read the poem, ‘Death is nothing at all’ and then ten candles were lit in remembrance of those who died: Steve Baldwin, Steve ‘George’ Dunn, Alan Ensor, Barry Needham, Raymond Robson, Robert Shakespeare, Paul Taylor, Christopher Terry, Clive Vigden and John Weddle.

After the church ceremony, the families moved on to a private act of remembrance in a memorial garden close to the trackside at Great Heck.

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