A bid is underway to create an Aberdeen memorial paying tribute to the North Sea divers who lost their lives over the last 50 years.
Former saturation divers Nick McClellan and James McLean have commissioned Alan Beattie Herriot to design the piece; the same artist who created the Robert the Bruce sculpture outside Aberdeen’s Marischal College, and recently created the hilt of a new sword presented to King Charles in Edinburgh.
The pair estimate that, since 1966, 79 divers have lost their lives in the North Sea oil and gas industry, inclusive of the UK, Norway, Germany and Denmark.
Around £120,000 will be required to create the Aberdeen diver memorial, which will likely be placed at the beach or harbour, pending city council planning permission.
The bronze life-size statue would be enveloped in stainless steel kelp on a granite plinth, with a dedication to the divers.
Both Mr McClellan and Mr McLean have lost friends in the industry through their careers.
“They were pioneers in an industry breaking new ground very fast,” said Mr McLean, “health and safety then wasn’t as developed as it was now, and people ended up giving with their lives.
“I think it is important for people to have a memorial like that where they can go and reflect and remember those individuals: loved ones, husbands, brothers, fathers.
“The offshore North Sea wouldn’t have happened without all sorts of people – helicopter pilots, riggers, cooks – but particularly divers who played an important role in being able to take advantage of the resources that we’ve had over the last five decades.”
The hope is that the industry will “dig deep” to support the project, which will be subject to council planning approval.
Subsea 7 has already pledged equipment, including a diving helmet to inform Alan Herriot’s work.
Although based in Aberdeen, the monument will recognise divers and their families lost in waters from all North Sea countries – and people working there from nations around the world.
Mr McClellan, who worked latterly at Halliburton before his retirement nine years ago, said: “I got in touch with Jim McLean, who is an ex diver and a very good friend of mine. I said it would be nice to do something for the families of all the divers who died.
“Initially we thought it was about 59, but going back to 1966/67 we noticed there’s a count of about 79 divers who died in the North Sea, right up to recently when a couple of divers died at wind farms in Germany.
He added: “This is for the families, the main theme for this is to have something for the families themselves.
“Initially we thought we might want to put the whole list on the pedestal, but really it would be better to say ‘For the North Sea divers’.”
As well as the Robert the Bruce statue, Alan Beattie has created works including a sculpture of Robert Louis Stevenson in Edinburgh, a Royal Army Medical Core memorial in Staffordshire, and Elgin’s Drummer in Moray.
He said: “I was delighted to be asked to design and sculpt this proposed memorial which would be dedicated to those divers who had lost their lives in the course of their work. Particularly relevant in Aberdeen given its long association with the North Sea oil industry.
“I was shocked to learn the number of divers who had lost their lives over such a short period of time, so the statue will be a fitting memorial to them and will ensure that they and the dangers they encounter on a daily basis are never forgotten.”
Mr McClellan and Mr McLean are in the process of creating a JustGiving page. For any inquiries presently, please contact Nick McClellan at firstname.lastname@example.org