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The Marchioness disaster: Twenty five years on: Harlow’s Julie Ibbotson remembered

Communities / Wed 20th Aug 2014 at 01:29pm

THE Marchioness disaster occurred on the River Thames in the early hours of 20 August 1989.

The pleasure boat Marchioness sank after being run down by the dredger Bowbelle, near Cannon Street Railway Bridge.

There were 131 people on the Marchioness, including members of the crew, catering staff and guests at a private birthday party. 51 of them drowned.

Among the 51 was Harlow girl, Julie Ibbotson. Julie, then aged 23, was a former pupil at Stewards school.

Julie was a model with the Sychro model agency. She drowned along with her boyfriend, Rupert Blackburn.

The tragedy resonated around the world.

Julie’s parents were Michael and Veronica Ibbotson who lived in Thurstans, Harlow.

Julie was buried along with her boyfriend, Rupert in Tring, Hertfordshire.

Photo courtesy of the Harlow Star.

Julie Ibbotson

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1 Comment for The Marchioness disaster: Twenty five years on: Harlow’s Julie Ibbotson remembered:

CHRIS DAWES
2023-03-07 19:06:12

a favourite images of her and Georgina Bartlett, at the end of successful M&S shoot happily transforming themselves, with the enthusiastic help of the stylist and make-up artist, into a louche pair of pre-AbFAb fashionista nightmares which we duly sent to the M & S art department . They were greatly appreciated. I used to see Julie socially, and Rupert , as we had friends in common through the business. I particularly remember a dinner for about twenty people in Julie's off Holland Park to celebrate Lino's birthday . I was there with my then girlfriend Paola , who had just joined the newly established Elite agency . A few months later we were invited to the party on the Marchioness . a lot of friends were going but it was the night before my birthday. Not wanting to commit to a late one we opted for Mandy Coakley 's party instead, a decision that probably saved our lives. Many friends did survive , but many did not, and over the next few weeks we went to the funerals of four of the closest, Lino, Howard , Julie and Rupert . (Which was about all we could face). Each one was different , dignified, celebratory of their lives but unbearably poignant in their loss. Throughout all of this the press did themselves no favours ; they latched onto the cliched image of over-paid ill-deserving fashionistas and the privileged ex-Cambridge poshies partying recklessly into the night. Journalists were shameless in their pursuit of any story concerning the victims, sensing a treasure trove of gossip and scandal, ignoring the reality of two groups of hard-working friends and professionals enjoying a normal celebration on the Marchioness . The papers were not really interested in investigating how the Bowbelle came to be licensed to monster blindly down the Thames in the first place, or in querying the extraordinary lack of safety precautions on the river itself . Nor were the government of the day in any mood to admit any culpability on the part of the Board of Trade who had indeed licensed the dredger, such enquiry being blocked by the judge whenever it was raised on behalf of the victims' families .Both government and press failed and continue to fail those who died , their families in particular and the public in general . It's a simple question of justice Almost the only positive aspect of the whole tragedy was the way in which the families and friends of the victims came together in their grief to deny the tabloids even a hint of the kind of social carrion they fed, and continue to feed to their readers. For the rest of it, we're still waiting.

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