If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know that we at Andalucia.com have been closely involved in marking the 50th anniversary of the Lakonia tragedy, when over 100 people died in a cruise ship fire in December 1963 off Madeira. Many of the bodies were subsequently brought to Gibraltar.
On Friday 6 December, a ceremony was held in Gibraltar Cemetery, where 14 victims are still buried. This was the first time the disaster has been commemorated officially – and permanently. You can see a video of the speeches and unveiling of the plaque below. Those in attendance included three survivors of the tragedy: Carol Woolnoth, John Hynes, and Philip McGovern – the latter two both spoke at the ceremony – and one who recovered the bodies, Gordon Holmes. Carol, who was aged just 10 at the time and had made friends with John’s young sister, met John at the ceremony for the first time since the tragedy 50 years ago.Group picture of all those who attended, including survivors and their families, rescuers, and religious leaders from the Protestant, Catholic and Jewish faiths. Chris Chaplow, Andalucia.com MD, is in the centre at the back.
The ceremony was also attended by MD of Andalucia.com, Chris Chaplow – the website’s Forum thread about the Lakonia, started by Gordon, first gave rise to the idea for the plaque; and by Dr Keith Farrell of the Gibraltar Heritage Trust. Three religious leaders – Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish, to cover the three faiths represented by the remaining victims’ graves – gave blessings.
Soon we will be publishing new pages on andalucia.com of Survivors’ Stories, where Carol, John, Philip and others recount in their own words, their memories of what happened that fateful night – 22/23 December 1963.