Son's coast to coast walk for tragic dad

A COAST to Coast challenge is back on in memory of the victims of the Morecambe Bay helicopter disaster.

More than a year after Andy Potton had to abandon his Cumbria to Yorkshire hike through injury, the 27-year-old is preparing to set out again.

At the forefront of his mind will be dad Stephen Potton, pilot of the CHC Scotia helicopter which plunged in to Morecambe Bay on December 27, 2006.

All seven of the men on board lost their lives, Les Ahmed, Alf Neasham, Jakie Shaw, Bob Warburton, Keith Smith, Simon Foddering and Mr Potton, but only six of the bodies were ever recovered.

It is for the effort and bravery of the lifeboat rescue teams that Andy wants to raise 7,500 with a 180-mile trek from St Bees to Robin Hood's Bay.

Andy said: "On the night of 27 December, 2006 no-one knew if the men had survived or if they had lost their lives on impact.

"The RNLI didn't waste time speculating, three lifeboat stations immediately set out to bring those men home.

"They battled harsh weather conditions in the dead of night to liberate seven souls from the clutches of the sea.

"They fought not for half-an-hour, or four or eight, Fleetwood station stayed out for 24 hours.

"For me it was the longest night of my life. For the lifeboatmen and women it was a test of physical and mental endurance.

"Even when it became apparent that the victims had indeed lost their lives, the RNLI continued their search and rescue, continued to fight to bring home the bodies, fought for me to be given the opportunity to say farewell to my father.

"A chance for his wife to see his face one last time; an opportunity for everyone who knew and loved him to gather and give thanks for being a part of his life."

Andy's first attempt at the walk in September last year was called off after only three days when enthusiasm overtook planning and he was left exhausted and injured on Scafell and had to be helped down.

One year on, and with a team of seven friends behind him, Andrew is preparing to set off again on September 1.

He added: "I felt that I was returning home in disgrace – that I had failed all of those people who had so generously sponsored me.

"However this time I won't be alone and we are determined to complete the challenge."

Anyone who wants to offer sponsorship or support can go to Andy's website www.just