Thirty Years On

I remember what I was doing on March 6th, 1987. My brother hadn’t long moved out of home, I hadn’t long got back from Basic Training with the Territorial Army and the crippling snows had nearly all gone.

My brother and I went to a bar that had a lock-in and when we walked in, there was silence from everyone, with just the noise of the newsreader on the radio. I thought he was telling a story from the descriptions he was giving. I said to my brother something along the lines of it being quite a vivid description and wouldn’t mind it being a film so we could watch it. That’s when one of the other patrons said it wasn’t a story. It was real, and then the full horror of it started to sink in.

A ferry had left the Belgian port of Zeebrugge bound for Dover, It was the Herald of Free Enterprise. A red and white Townsend Thoreson ship, one that was referred to as a RoRo – Roll On – Roll Off.

As it left the port, the doors were not closed properly and a wave entered the bottom level of the ship and caused it to list and it was in trouble.

Just ninety seconds later – One and a half minutes. Less time than it takes to boil an egg. Less time than it takes most people to use the toilet. Less time than a commercial break on the TV. 193 people were dead.

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