The best friend of a hero air hostess from Chesterfield who died in the Manchester Airport disaster has told how she misses her every day – on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the tragedy.
Sharon Ford, who lived on Enfield Road, Newbold, was one of 55 victims of the disaster on August 22, 1985.
I loved Sharon with all my heart – she was the sister I never had – and I miss her every single dayBeverley Senatore
She was just 22-years-old.
Sharon – who led many passengers to safety as a British Airtours 737 jet bound for Corfu burst into flames on the runway – was posthumously awarded a Queen’s Gallantry Medal for bravery.
Her best friend, Beverley Senatore, will join bereaved relatives and survivors of the disaster tomorrow for a private memorial to remember Sharon and everyone else who lost their lives exactly three decades on.
Beverley, 52, told the Derbyshire Times: “I feel so privileged to have been best friends with this beautiful, funny, amazing, brave woman.
“I’ve never met anyone like Sharon – I never will.
“She was a once in a lifetime friend, a one in a million friend.
“I loved Sharon with all my heart – she was the sister I never had – and I miss her every single day.”
Beverley, nee Taylor, and Sharon became friends at college – and it all started with a smile.
“Whenever I saw her, she always smiled at me and I smiled back,” Beverley recalled.
“One day she said to me ‘you seem like a nice girl’ so we got talking and hit it off – and the rest is history.
“I’ve got so many happy memories of Sharon – they’ll stay with me forever.
“We went on nights out, we went on holidays, we went on double dates – we were like two peas in a pod.
“We read Mills and Boon books and Sharon always said she wanted to meet Mr Mills and Boon, get married and have two children.
“She would have done, too.
“She had supermodel looks – she was stunning.”
Sharon spent nine months working as a typist and ticket sales woman for Chesterfield Football Club but had always wanted to be an air stewardess.
She eventually achieved her dream – but it was to end in tragedy.
Sharon, another air hostess and 53 passengers were killed in the fire on that fateful day.
Most of the victims died from inhaling toxic smoke and many were impeded by the layout of the seats and the narrow width of the exits.
The disaster led to a host of changes in air safety procedures.
Recalling the day of the disaster, tearful Beverley said: “I switched on the television and I saw a news report about a plane on fire.
“I thought ‘I’d better ring Sharon’ – but I never got through to her.
“I later found out she had perished.
“My world fell apart and I went through a very difficult time in the years after her death.
“I left Chesterfield – the place just wasn’t the same without her.
“Even after all these years I’m still hit by intense waves of grief.”
Beverley, who now lives in Worcestershire, said she was too devastated to attend Sharon’s funeral.
“Tomorrow’s memorial event at Manchester Airport will give me a chance to say goodbye to her,” she added.
“It will be very emotional but at the same time I think it will be very special.
“I’ll never, ever forget that wonderful lady.
“What I’d give to see her again.”