|7 Sep 2023|
This year on the 12th of August we solemnly mark the 30th anniversary of the Llyn (Lake) Padarn helicopter crash in North Wales, in which Bury Grammar School pupil Mark Oakden tragically lost his life, along with two other Air Cadets from the Greater Manchester area who were attending an Air Cadet Summer camp at RAF Valley in Anglesey. Four Air Cadets were travelling on an RAF Wessex rescue helicopter which suffered sudden mechanical failure and crashed into Llyn Padarn, near Llanberis. The crew and one of the four cadets survived.
Mark had just completed his GCSE examinations and was due to start the Sixth Form at BGS and his loss has left a lasting deep sorrow within the Bury Grammar School community who remember Mark with great fondness and affection. Each year in his honour, the Mark Oakden Swimming Trophy is presented at the School Swimming Gala.
Grace Mehta current Bury Grammar School Head of Extra Curricular Activities, Teacher of Geography, and Contingent Commander personally knew many of the cadets and staff in attendance at the camp and memorial service, and commented below:
This tragic day is forever in the memory of all Air Cadets and staff of this generation. The flight itself was a reward for excellent cadets on the camp, that ended in great unexpected loss. The memorial service, 30 years on from that harrowing day, was a fitting tribute to brave cadets whose time ended far too soon. Representatives from RAF Valley attended the service, which was led by their Station Chaplin alongside Air Commadore Williams, Air Officer Wales and Group Captain Simon, Regional Commandant of Wales and West Group. Over 40 cadets and staff from Bolton, Bury, Horwich and Caernarfon Air Cadet units attended and wore their uniforms with pride and conducted themselves in solemnity in tribute to the fallen cadets who had gone before them. Mark and the other cadets will never be forgotten within the Air Cadets and at Bury Grammar School.
Mark’s Mum, Tina Oakden added,
The photograph of Mark is one of the last taken of him and was taken by his friends the week before the helicopter accident, on his trip during the summer holidays to Russia with Bury Grammar School.
Mark returned from Russia on the Saturday and went straight to the Cadet Camp on the Sunday, just before going with School to Russia, he had completed the Coast to Coast with his friend David Varnom.
We hadn’t seen much of him after taking his GCSEs. He was a marvellous boy of action with so many plans.