Below is the text of the speech made by Stephen Hammond, the Transport Minister, on 30th November 2013.
Thank you for inviting me to join you at Bristow’s 30th Anniversary celebrations in Shetland, and my apologies for not being able to join you in person because of my other commitments.
It was of course, 30 years ago to the day that the search and rescue base in Shetland started operations on behalf of Her Majesty’s Coastguard.
As minister with responsibility for Her Majesty’s Coastguard, it is a great honour to be able to pay tribute to the professionalism and hard work of all those who have been committed to search and rescue over the last 30 years, in Shetland. And it is right that you are gathered there today (30 November 2013) to celebrate this important milestone. You tirelessly venture out in all weathers throughout the year to rescue people in danger. And, of course, operations here could not succeed were it not for the highly skilled engineers and support staff, many of whom I know are there today (30 November 2013) as well.
Sadly, not everyone who has worked on the base can be there today (30 November 2013), but I want this tribute to stand for all those who have helped save lives over the past 30 years through their work on the base. The very high regard in which you are all held by the local communities in Shetland and the enormous gratitude for what you do is shared with me and my ministerial colleagues here in London.
The professionalism and dedication to search and rescue from all who have worked on this base has been the benchmark for the new search and rescue helicopter arrangements that Bristow is now implementing across the United Kingdom. I want to thank all of those who have played their part in the success of this base over the past 30 years, as well as those who are leading on putting in place the new UK SAR helicopter arrangements elsewhere.
I also want to pay tribute to colleagues from Sikorsky Helicopters. Sikorsky’s helicopters have been an important part of the success of this unit over the past 30 years. They are highly visible in the local community in Shetland and will be equally recognisable in other parts of the UK in the coming years.
The fact that I could not be here today (30 November 2013) is a disappointment to me, however I am sure that you will mark this occasion in a manner that is right and correct. So enjoy this day!