Defence chiefs are being urged to hand over one of RAF Lossiemouth’s two Sea King SAR helicopters to the Moray community when they are withdrawn from service in March.
Highlands & Islands MSPs David Stewart and Rhoda Grant have written a joint appeal to the Ministry of Defence in support of the Morayvia bid to preserve one of the iconic aircraft at their planned Science and Technology centre in Kinloss.
The group have already received extensive public support from throughout Moray and the Highlands, with thousands joining a Social Media site calling on defence chiefs to consider the bid to keep a Sea King in the region.
David Stewart MSP has taken a keen interest in the bid, having already led an appeal for a rethink by the MoD over plans to move the ARCC facility from Kinloss Barracks to Hampshire.
Now the MSP has pledged his backing for the Sea King bid. He said: “Along with my colleague Rhoda Grant, we will be pushing the Ministry of Defence to make sure one of the Sea Kings, which has served the community so well as a key extension of the ARCC, can remain in Moray as part of the Morayvia Museum.
“We will be doing all we can to support this campaign and just today we sent a joint letter to the Ministry of Defence asking them to donate one of the Sea Kings to Morayvia, once they cease to be operational at the end of March 2015.”
Mr Stewart’s Scottish Labour colleague at Holyrood, Rhoda Grant, has also signed the letter calling on MoD to agree Morayvia’s bid, adding: “I’m only too happy to join this campaign that will see one of the iconic aircraft stay in Moray where it was a frequent sight in the sky and a saviour to so many who found themselves in difficulties whether on land or sea.
“I think it is only right and proper that Morayvia become the permanent home for one of the Sea Kings and I hope for a positive response to the joint letter written by David Stewart and I to the Ministry of Defence.”
Support is also being pledged by local Moray councillor Sean Morton. The Fochabers/Lhanbryde councillor, who is a candidate for the Moray seat at the forthcoming General Election, said: “It really would be brilliant to have a Sea King on permanent display.
“I remember looking up at the Nimrods flying over head and getting excited by the sight of the Sea King as a young lad.
“Like the Nimrod, it’s part of Moray’s history and identity – retaining the Sea King can only help boost tourism in the area.”
People can support the bid by joining the online Facebook campaign.
Meanwhile insideMoray is currently offering a unique print of a Sea King that was flow on the first SAR mission of 2015 on New Year’s Day and subsequently signed by the crew. Details can be found at http://insidemoray.scot/auction/.