The tragedy Shoreham will never forget

The Shoreham Airshow disaster devastated the seaside town and was the single biggest peacetime loss of life in Sussex.

There was a huge outpouring of grief from members of the public in the wake of the crash. People flocked to the Old Shoreham Tollbridge, near the scene of the tragedy, as a place of solace.

For weeks it was showered with thousands of floral tributes, cards, ribbons and other gifts. There was anger when the mementos were removed but many have now been preserved in a public archive.

Shoreham Airshow crash
A memorial for the victims of the Shoreham air crash on a bridge near to the crash site.

The repercussions of the crash were felt across Sussex, where all the men who died had lived in various corners of the county.

Thousands flocked to the airshow every year and 2015 was no different.

Many have called for the event never to take place again as a mark of respect.

Victim Daniele Polito’s mother Leslye is one of those who never wants to see it return.

She said: “I really feel very strongly it should never be held again. I think the public in the area feel very much the same way.”

Constituency MP Tim Loughton said there was a “certain resignation” that it was not going to return and people would be disappointed but had “more or less accepted that is what will happen”.

He added: “If it did return it would be a pale version of what it was before.”

Organisers previously said it was put on hold indefinitely while there were ongoing investigations and legal proceedings.

A member of the Legion of Frontiersmen lays a wreath amongst the tributes
A member of the Legion of Frontiersmen lays a wreath amongst the tributes

Emma Evans, who was born, raised and has lived in Shoreham all her life, said the tragedy “shook” her home town.

The Adur district councillor, who was at the airshow at the time of the crash, told the Press Association: “I remember the day well – it was a glorious summer’s day and it seemed like the whole town of 20,000 residents were involved in some way with what was the biggest event of the year.

“After the crash happened there was a numbness across the town – no one really knew what to do and I remember receiving dozens of messages from friends and family to check if everyone was OK.”

She recalled how the town came together in mourning, organising a candlelit tribute a week later.

She said: “The unity and community spirit was incredible.

“It may be more than three years since the tragedy but it is something that the residents of Shoreham will never forget.

“While people have now stopped talking about it, the Shoreham Airshow disaster is – and will always be – something that unites us all.”

Work is now under way to build a memorial to those who died, the emergency services and anyone else affected.

Artists commissioned by the council are creating a sculpture along the riverbank near the bridge with a design picked by the families of the victims featuring 11 arches, one for each man who died, with a personal tribute.

It is hoped it will be completed later this year.

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