Today we remembered the dedication and devotion of our crew members Graham Budden, Mark Darby and Tony Richardson, three incredible men who sadly lost their lives in a helicopter accident whilst serving with the charity, 25 years ago.
In a private remembrance ceremony held this morning, family members, Team KSS colleagues, volunteers and representatives from other emergency services, gathered at the memorial stone at Blue Bell Hill in honour of Graham, Mark and Tony.
Some of those who gathered placed wreaths at the base of the memorial stone in memory of each crew member, including Barney Burgess, Chair of the charity’s Board of Trustees and Medical Director Dr Duncan Bootland.
A poignant three-minute silence at 11am followed, as all who were gathered paused to reflect on the ultimate sacrifice made by Graham, Mark and Tony, whilst working to save the lives of others. One of our aircraft then circled overhead three times to honour the life of each crew member.
A Memorial Service was held at 2pm at The Collegiate Church of All Saints, Maidstone, led by The Very Reverend John Richardson, Vicar of Maidstone. The service was attended by family members, Team KSS colleagues, volunteers, supporters, representatives of other emergency services and friends of Graham, Mark and Tony. During the service Graham, Mark and Tony’s commitment and service to the charity and the communities it serves was honoured. Our helicopter circled in the sky above the church as guests were departing.
Later in the day, a memorial bench dedicated to Graham, Mark and Tony to mark the 25th anniversary was unveiled at our Rochester base. Memorial plaques dedicated to the three crew members were also unveiled at both our Rochester and Redhill bases.
Barney Burgess reflected: “It has been an incredibly poignant day for the families, Team KSS, our communities, and all who knew and loved Graham, Mark and Tony, as we joined together to mark the 25th anniversary. We will always remember their dedication and devotion to the charity as we continue to honour their memory and legacy of saving lives.
“Graham, Mark and Tony are forever in our hearts and our thoughts are with their loved ones, especially today.”