New memorial remembers Chesterfield victim of Manchester Airport disaster

Sharon Ford.
Sharon Ford.

A new memorial has been unveiled to remember the 55 people who died in the Manchester Airport disaster in the 1980s – including a Chesterfield air hostess.

Sharon Ford, of Enfield Road, Newbold, passed away in the tragedy aged just 22 on August 22, 1985.

The memorial unveiled at Manchester Airport.

The memorial unveiled at Manchester Airport.

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 Wednesday, a five-metre-tall wooden structure was presented at the airport during a remembrance service, 33 years after the disaster happened.

The memorial bears the name of each person who died – 53 passengers and two crew.

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.

The tragedy led to significant changes in air safety procedures, including the implementation of fire resistant seat covers.

In 2015, following the 30th anniversary of the disaster, families of the victims received an apology from the airport ‘for their loss’ and the ‘memories they have had to live with’.

They were consulted on the design of the new memorial after it was felt that a previous plaque was an unworthy tribute to their loved ones.

Sharon was described as a ‘beautiful, funny, amazing, brave woman’. She wanted to be an air hostess since leaving school.