IT WAS DESCRIBED as a “special moment” – and nobody denied that among those gathered to hear the news that a campaign to keep a strong hold on an important part of Moray history had succeeded against all the odds.
Defence sources had given every indication that it was highly unlikely the fledgling Morayvia group, set up with the sole purpose of preserving Moray’s military aviation heritage, would be allocated one of the Sea King search and rescue helicopters when they were permanently removed in April from RAF Lossiemouth.
In the end that was true in part – the Sea King that will return to Moray as a permanent exhibit is not one of the pair that left the region.
That was of no consequence to the campaigners who fought so hard to ensure one of these venerable aircraft returned permanently to Moray, in fact early indications are the Sea King XZ592 has followed an incredible journey of its own, a story yet to be told in full detail.
For now though, people from every walk of life in Moray have every right to be celebrating the imminent arrival of XZ592.
Among them at the reception to announce victory for the campaign was Deputy Lord Lieutenant Jim Royan, who spoke for everyone when he said: “On behalf of the community and not just the lord lieutenancy, I would like to say this is a very special moment.
“If we have to find a name for this aircraft it should be “Tenacity” – because it is remarkable how tenacious Morayvia has been in securing this purchase.”
It is expected that the final bill for establishing XZ592 in Moray will be in the region of £30,000 – money that Morayvia does not have right now, but the group could not pass up the opportunity of grasping the Sea King for Moray, and now they will enter into a ‘crowd funding’ effort to cover both the high price they have had to pay out and what is need to put the aircraft in its permanent place of honour.
What is perhaps most gratifying from the success of obtaining XZ592 is that it stands as a testimony to Moray’s determination not to allow this vital part of our history to just slip away.
While defence chiefs where happy enough to spirit the Nimrod out of our midst, people who had lived, worked and wondered at the aircraft over the years refused to do so. It followed then that when the Sea King was to be wrestled from our grasp those same people would refuse to allow that to happen.
“This is an emotional event for me, and I don’t think people fully understand and appreciate the work the engineers piloting these machines did,” Mark Mair, the driving force behind the Sea King for Moray campaign said.
He added: “Moray needed to pay tribute to these guys, the Ministry of Defence did not let it happen when they decommissioned the Sea Kings at Lossiemouth – but we will make it happen now.”