Lifeboat named for men lost in tragedy

Audrey Wood names the new boat at Aberdeen Harbour
Audrey Wood names the new boat at Aberdeen Harbour

Aberdeen’s new RNLI inshore lifeboat has been named in memory of the 16 men lost in the tragedy of helicopter flight 85N which took place ten years ago this month.

The boat, ‘Buoy Woody - 85N’, was named by Audrey Wood, the mother of Stuart ‘Woody’ Wood from Newmachar who was one of the 16 men lost.

More than 200 guests attended the ceremony at Aberdeen’s Blaikie’s Quay on Saturday, April 20.

The boat was named in a ceremony which saw it splashed with fine Scotch Whisky donated by the Glen Garioch Distillery.

Audrey Wood spoke on behalf of all those who had donated to the Aberdeen Inshore Lifeboat Appeal and handed the boat into the care of the RNLI.

She said: “The 1st of April 2009 was a beautiful spring day offshore on the Miller Platform: clear blue skies, sea like a mill pond. Our son, Stuart, better known as Woody, was flying home; he was meant to be home the week prior but had stayed on to complete a job.

“The helicopter, Flight 85N, boarded and took off as normal for its one hour flight to Aberdeen.

“But on that beautiful day, tragedy struck. The helicopter, with 16 men on board, plunged into the sea some 12 miles from Peterhead. A full air and sea search was launched, and the team worked day and night until all of our boys were found and brought back to waiting loved ones. But there were no survivors.

“It was only following this tragedy that we as a family realised that the work of the RNLI was voluntary.

“We pledged to raise money for local RNLI stations. In truth, this helped both us and the RNLI as, apart from raising funds, it was also a distraction therapy for us in this lifelong grieving journey of losing our only son.

“Over the past 10 years, we have managed to raise £235,000 - more than we ever dreamed possible. The money has been distributed to local RNLI stations along the North East coastline from Buckie to Aberdeen.

“Our hope is that this money will help save lives at sea around our coast, so that other families might be spared the pain that we have had to endure.”