Two of Scotland’s most popular television presenters are lending their support for a bid to retain one of the iconic Lossiemouth-based Sea King helicopters in Moray.
A detachment of the RAF’s 202 Squadron has been located at the Moray base where it has become a familiar sight over the years, undertaking hundreds of rescues over land and sea.
From the end of March this year the distinctive yellow Sea Kings will no longer be flying, replaced by specially adapted AW198s operated by Bristow’s from a new base at Inverness Airport.
However, one group in Moray is determined it will not be the end of the Sea King in the region, with Morayvia launching a bid to obtain one of the Sea King’s for their planned tourism attraction at Kinloss.
Morayvia launched their bid at the weekend through insideMoray, revealing that they would be doing all in their power to obtain one of the retired helicopters – and fundraising got off to a flying start with a limited edition of ten prints depicting the Sea King being put up for sale.
The prints where flown on a Sea King mission on New Year’s Day, signed by the crew with prints two to nine offered at £100 – five of them snapped up within hours of going on sale. Print number one will be offered via an online auction on insideMoray soon.
Meanwhile a Facebook page has been launched in support of the bid with TV Star and a long-time supporter of Scotland’s military bases, Lorraine Kelly, one of the first to pledge her support to the bid – and joining Lorraine in her support for the bid is BBC newsreader Sally McNair.
Speaking for Morayvia, Mark Mair said: “We are delighted to be able to confirm that both Lorraine and Sally will lend their support to our bid to obtain one of the Sea Kings which will retire from service this year.
“These helicopters have been much loved and respected not only by the hundreds who have been rescued by them over the years but the general public in Moray, as evidenced already by the tremendous reaction we have received from insideMoray readers in the few days since we announced our intentions.
“We have now set up a Facebook page where people can lend their support and find out about further planned efforts to raise the funds we will require to purchase and maintain a Sea King alongside our existing Nimrod and other exhibits.”
Also lending his support to the project is former RAF serviceman and now Moray Councillor, Chris Tuke, who said: “I have liaised with Morayvia since my election and advised on the acquisition of Abbeylands School.
“I was also honoured to be invited to the naming ceremony of Nimrod XV244, ‘The Duke of Edinburgh’. My affinity is, obviously, greatest with the Nimrod after flying for over 20 years on them.
“During that time we worked very closely with the Sea Kings – particularly from RAF Lossiemouth – on many successful Search & Rescue Missions.
“I would fully support this bid to acquire a Sea King as it would be an excellent reminder of the aircraft’s service, a worthy addition to Morayvia’s collection, and a tribute to the bravery of the crews who flew, often in extremely hazardous conditions, to save lives.
“Morayvia is welcoming anyone who has an interest in the project to become a member. Membership can be obtained at the website www.morayvia.org.uk.”