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Jupiter Disaster: Survivors of cruise ship tragedy gather for 25th anniversary service in Hornchurch

Service organiser Julia King lights a candle for the pupil, teacher and Greek crewmen who died Service organiser Julia King lights a candle for the pupil, teacher and Greek crewmen who died

Thursday, October 24, 2013
7:17 PM

On October 21, 1988, cruise ship Jupiter sank off the coast of Athens after colliding with an Italian freight ship. Among the passengers were 131 pupils and 24 teachers from Havering schools, who all survived. On Tuesday, a remembrance service was held in Hornchurch to mark the 25th anniversary and the Recorder was there to talk to the survivors about their experiences.

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Some of the survivors said the anniversary represented a line in the sand for themSome of the survivors said the anniversary represented a line in the sand for them

Survivors of a cruise ship disaster gathered for a 25th anniversary service in Hornchurch on Tuesday.

All 131 Havering school pupils and 24 teachers survived when the Jupiter sank off the coast of Athens on October 21, 1988, after colliding with a freight ship.

Of the near 600 passengers, there were four deaths, and some others ended up in hospital.

About 80 people attended the service that was held at St Andrew’s Church, High Street.

Rev Barry Hobson led prayers for those who died in the Greek watersRev Barry Hobson led prayers for those who died in the Greek waters

They included passengers who at the time attended schools Albany, Chase Cross, Frances Bardsley, Gaynes, Sacred Heart and Sanders Draper.

Julia King, from Romford, organised the event in the hope of meeting fellow survivors.

She said: “I don’t know everyone here because we were from different schools, but people have been so supportive of each other, it is a shared experience.

“Some people said that coming today will draw a line under it for them, but most have said they will stay in touch.”

Timeline of Events

- On October 21, 1988, nearly 600 people – including 131 pupils and 24 teachers from Havering schools – boarded Jupiter at Piraeus Harbour, Athens, for a week-long educational cruise

- At 6.10pm, shortly after they had set sail, Adige, an Italian freight ship on its way into harbour, collided with Jupiter, causing a 15ft by 39ft hole in its port side

- Within 40 minutes the boat had sunk, vertically, stern first, into the Mediterranean. Some passengers fell into the sea as the ship tilted, most made their way to tugboats and were taken back to the harbour

- There were four deaths – a teacher and pupil from Birmingham and two members of the Greek crew. Others were hospitalised

- After gathering in a warehouse, the passengers were loaded on to Pegasus, a moored cruise ship, where they spent the night

- Passengers from Havering schools returned home the next day

- The Havering survivors held a thanksgiving service on November 15, 1988

The 45-minute service was held at the same venue as the original thanksgiving, which took place shortly after the passengers returned home.

Rev Barry Hobson began proceedings, before Julia lit candles in memory of teacher Bernard Butt and pupil Vivienne Barley, both from the Midlands, and the two Greek crew members who died.

Tears were shed at the service, which also featured a speech from Rev Sonia Groombridge.

Afterwards, old friends chatted and new acquaintances shared experiences.

Julia added: “I made a Facebook group for survivors to share memories because I thought I was the only one who remembered it, but there are more than 150 members now.”

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