Hero Chesterfield air hostess who died in Manchester Airport disaster remembered in new memorial
A Chesterfield air hostess who died in the Manchester Airport disaster in the 1980s will be among the 55 victims to be remembered in a new memorial.
Sharon Ford, of Enfield Road, Newbold, passed away in the tragedy aged just 22 on August 22, 1985.
Sharon - who led many passengers to safety as a British Airtours 737 jet bound for Corfu burst into flames on the runway - was posthumously awarded a Queen's Gallantry Medal for bravery.
On August 22, a five-metre-tall wooden structure will be presented at the airport during a remembrance service on 22 August.
Fifty-three passengers and two crew were killed in the disaster.
Most of the victims died from inhaling toxic smoke and many were impeded by the layout of the seats and the narrow width of the exits.
Survivors and the relatives of those who died eventually successfully sued US aircraft engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney and the tragedy led to a host of changes in air safety procedures, including the implementation of fire resistant seat covers.
In 2015, following the 30th anniversary of the tragedy, families of the victims received an apology from the airport 'for their loss' and the 'memories they have had to live with'.
'A once in a lifetime friend'
Sharon's best friend Beverley Senatore told the Derbyshire Times: "I feel so privileged to have been best friends with this beautiful, funny, amazing, brave woman.
"I've never met anyone like Sharon - I never will.
"She was a once in a lifetime friend, a one in a million friend.
"I loved Sharon with all my heart - she was the sister I never had - and I miss her every single day."
Beverley, nee Taylor, and Sharon became friends at college - and it all started with a smile.
"Whenever I saw her, she always smiled at me and I smiled back," Beverley recalled.
"One day she said to me 'you seem like a nice girl' so we got talking and hit it off - and the rest is history.
"I've got so many happy memories of Sharon - they'll stay with me forever.
"We went on nights out, we went on holidays, we went on double dates - we were like two peas in a pod.
"We read Mills and Boon books and Sharon always said she wanted to meet Mr Mills and Boon, get married and have two children.
"She would have done, too.
"She had supermodel looks - she was stunning."
Sharon spent nine months working as a typist and ticket sales woman for Chesterfield Football Club but had always wanted to be an air stewardess.
She eventually achieved her dream - but it was to end in tragedy.
Recalling the day of the disaster, tearful Beverley said: "I switched on the television and I saw a news report about a plane on fire.
"I thought 'I'd better ring Sharon' - but I never got through to her.
"I later found out she had perished.
"My world fell apart and I went through a very difficult time in the years after her death.
"I left Chesterfield - the place just wasn't the same without her.
"Even after all these years I'm still hit by intense waves of grief."
Beverley, who now lives in Worcestershire, said she was too devastated to attend Sharon’s funeral.
She added: "I'll never, ever forget that wonderful lady.
"What I'd give to see her again."
'She had always wanted to be a stewardess'
A newspaper report on Sharon's death stated: "Sharon had wanted to be an air hostess since leaving Notre Dame school in Sheffield.
"For nine months she worked as a typist and ticket sales woman for Chesterfield Football Club.
"Sharon was offered the job after entering the Miss Chesterfield Football Club competition.
"Club cashier Pat Hopkinson described Sharon as 'a very pretty girl'.
"She had always wanted to be a stewardess and was delighted when she got the job," the report added.