Shoreham Airshow disaster heroine receives Royal award

Doctors Eastman and Jackson, and Tony Kemp with Princess Alexandra after receiving their awards.
Doctors Eastman and Jackson, and Tony Kemp with Princess Alexandra after receiving their awards.

A doctor who put her life on the line to tend to casualties at last year’s Shoreham Airshow disaster was honoured by Royalty in London yesterday.

Dr Marianne Jackson from New Pond Row Surgery in Lancing, along with Dr Karen Eastman from the Brow Medical Centre, Burgess Hill and nurse Tony Kemp of Rymers Close, Tunbridge Wells, were all presented with Royal Humane Society testimonials on vellum.

Dr Marianne Jackson with her award

Dr Marianne Jackson with her award

Between them they fought to save the pilot and other casualties at the disaster in horrific conditions.

Dr Jackson was attending the show as a spectator but came forward to offer her help after the crash.

The awards, which were personally approved and signed by Princess Alexandra, President of the Society, were presented by her at the annual court at Haberdasher’s Hall in London.

And afterwards the Princess talked privately with the heroic trio.

Describing their actions before the presentation, secretary Dick Wilkinson outlined the dangers they had faced from aviation fuel fires and possible explosions.

Mr Wilkinson said that Mr Kemp and Dr Eastman joined forces to go in search of the pilot, Andy Hill.

He said: “To reach the pilot, they went into a wooded area that was extremely dry, due to recent good weather.

“They went down into a ditch, some 6-8 feet below the A27 carriageway, through the debris of the crash. The terrain underfoot was difficult, with broken trees and bushes. The remains of the plane were in two main parts.

“The fuselage was ablaze and there was a massive plume of smoke and flames. The source was the aviation fuel, that rapidly ignited the surrounding scrub and trees. The wind (15 knots) was blowing the fumes directly towards them and their entry route was obstructed by fire.

“During the time they were working, the flames moved from ten metres to six metres behind them. The pilot was lying alongside his aircraft and the ejector seat, still armed, was nearby. Mr Kemp and Dr Eastman could not move the pilot alone, but decided his serious injuries were not life threatening so they carried out basic life support first aid on him. When paramedics arrived Mr Kemp helped them take the pilot away on a stretcher.”

After that Mr Kemp and Dr Eastman joined in helping other casualties at the crash site.

The roots of the Royal Humane Society stretch back more than two centuries. It is the premier national body for honouring bravery in the saving of human life.

It was founded in 1774 by two of the day’s eminent medical men, William Hawes and Thomas Cogan. Their primary motive was to promote techniques of resuscitation.

However, as it emerged that numerous people were prepared to put their own lives at risk to save others, the awards scheme evolved, and today a variety of awards are made depending on the bravery involved.

The Society also awards non-health care professionals who perform a successful resuscitation.

Since it was set up, the Society has considered over 86,000 cases and made over 200,000 awards.

The Society is a registered charity which receives no public funding and is dependent on voluntary donations.

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