Westray remembered at dawn

NEW GLASGOW — A memorial march and service on Tuesday morning began a day of events to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Westray coal mine disaster.

More than 200 people marched to the Westray Miners Memorial Park for the service beside the monument that is dedicated to the 26 miners who died on May 9, 1992 during an underground explosion at the mine.

Rev. Jim Webber-Cook presided over the service that included a prayer by Rev. Bruce Morrison, who was president of the Pictou County Council of Churches in 1992.

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Webber-Cook was serving in ministry in Saskatchewan when residents heard news of the explosion and he recalled the darkness that enveloped them so far from the mine site in Plymouth.

“People there would do anything to help,” he said. “Those miles were bridged by a caring community.”

Morrison drew an analogy between the morning service and the spring greenery surrounding the park, calling it “the beginning of life again after a dark, cold, lifeless winter.”

Kelly Regan, Labour and Advanced Education, noted how workplace safety has improved over the past 25 years.

“May 9, 1992 shook the foundation beneath us,” she said. “Workplace safety is no longer an afterthought. It is Job One.”

Stephen Hunt shared a message on behalf of the United Steelworkers and noted the determination friends, loved ones and others have demonstrated over the past 25 years.

“All the things our society cherishes were lost at Westray,” he said.

Allen and Debbie Martin followed by reading the names of the victims at Westray on behalf of their families.

Two other events were scheduled for Tuesday evening: a one-hour service at the memorial park, followed by a reception at the Museum of Industry in Stellarton.