Bond Search and Rescue crew wins courage award

Bond SARTwo Bond Offshore Helicopters (Bond) Search and Rescue (SAR) crewmen have been awarded the Billy Deacon SAR Memorial Trophy 2012, in recognition of their role in a North Sea rescue in December 2012. The award honours SAR winchmen and operators who have shown great skill and courage in carrying out rescues over land or sea within the UK.

As part of a multi-agency rescue effort coordinated by the Coastguard, one of Bond’s SAR aircraft was first to reach the rig standby vessel Vos Sailor. Despite extremely poor weather and sea conditions, winchman Andrew Cowx volunteered to remain on the deck of the stricken vessel for an hour, to manage the rescue of three remaining members of the ship’s crew, after winch operator Paul Walters had already lifted eight members of the crew to safety.

The Vos Sailor had lost all power after being hit by a wave, which meant that rescue operations had to be conducted in the dark, and with considerable heave and roll of the vessel. Cowx had also badly injured his foot whilst being lowered onto the vessel. Before rescue aircraft arrived on the scene, one member of the Vos Sailor crew had unfortunately lost their life.

Managing director of Bond Offshore Helicopters Luke Farajallah said: “Andrew and Paul displayed outstanding courage, composure and selflessness in the face of extremely challenging and hazardous conditions, and I can think of no more deserving winners of the Trophy. Of course they are part of a broader team, and I would also like to commend Captain Graham Stein and Co-Pilot Nick Smalley for their part in this rescue.”

The trophy will be presented on 14 May in a ceremony in London.

Terry Spruce

Terry is Senior News Editor and writes for both Corporate Jet Investor and Helicopter Investor. He is also responsible for our helicopter guides. Terry has been an aviation enthusiast since the early 1970s. He is a lapsed Private Pilot and ex-Piper Cherokee owner. He has flown a number of light aircraft and is comfortable sitting in the co-pilot's seat or the back of any aircraft. Before moving to journalism he was a banker for 20 years. You can contact him at: or follow him on twitter @Terry_Spruce

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