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UEA student scales heights for burns charity

PUBLISHED: 10:17 24 May 2014

File photo dated 07/07/1988 of the Piper Alpha oil platform the day after it exploded in the North Sea, off Aberdeen.

File photo dated 07/07/1988 of the Piper Alpha oil platform the day after it exploded in the North Sea, off Aberdeen.

UEA student Ryan Thomson is aiming high to raise £10,000 for a burns charity set up in the wake of the Piper Alpha disaster which claimed the lives of 167 men.

To mark the 26th anniversary he plans to lead a team to the Scottish highlands for a tough mountain ascent of over 4,000ft as a personal and charity challenge.

The tragedy unfolded on a platform 120 miles east of Scotland but hit home hard in Great Yarmouth and continues to have an impact on anyone connected to the platform.

Among them is Ryan’s father Peter Thomson, from Gorleston, who lost many friends in what is still the world’s worst offshore oil disaster.

It was one of the main motivating factors prompting him in 1996 to set up his own safety company to improve work systems, regulation and training.

Now Harfrey’s-based CSC International works across the globe from Australia to West Africa.

For 22-year-old Ryan learning that his father counted many close friends and colleagues among those who died on July 6, 1988 has been the inspiration behind his fundraising.

He is planning to lead a group on a four-day survival adventure, culminating in scaling Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest peak, on July 6.

He said: “The reason it is so important is that my dad knew the bulk of the people on that platform. That was his main reason for starting the safety company so things could be better in the future.

“It was not until very recently that he could talk about it. There were times when something would come on the news about the disaster and because of his reaction I never pushed it. He lost a lot of friends.

“The charity Raft develops new treatments for burns victims and I am determined to raise this money for them.”

Mr Thomson said he was proud of his son for taking on the challenge.

“I was closely associated with a lot of those people at the time. It was very close to home.”

Ryan, a final year business management student at the University of East Anglia, is working on endurance and gradient training around Ketts Hill and Grapes Hill ahead of the challenge. He will be joined by Jamie Godfree, 19, Alex Woolgar, 20, and Sam Goffin, 21.

Raft works to improve the treatment received by burn victims, to create and develop new artificial limbs for amputees and to help successfully utilise 3D Printing in facial reconstruction.

To donate to the appeal visit

Are you doing something amazing for charity? Email

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